Legionnaires Reported at Winston-Salem Nursing Facility

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Forsyth County Department of Public Health confirmed three cases of Legionella Pneumonia, commonly known as Legionnaire's disease, at Oak Forest Health and Rehabilitation, on Monday.

The health department is working closely with the NC Division of Public Health and the facility to investigate and find the source of the outbreak.

While they are looking for a cause, several safety measures have been put in place, effective immediately, the health department said.

The measures include:

  • No new admissions at the facility
  • Patients will only use bottled water for drinking, shaving, mouth rinsing and brushing teeth

People with relatives at Oak Forest told WFMY News 2 they weren't too concerned with their family members getting Legionnaire's disease, but are more worried about sanitation issues with residents only using bottled water. One woman said she's concerned bottled water and wipes aren't enough to keep the facility clean. The family members also said they were able to visit their relatives inside the building on Monday.

Legionnaire's disease does not spread person to person, but is found in hot water or in systems that produce aerosols or mist. Common breeding grounds for the Legionella bacterium include hot tubs, large plumbing systems and cooling towers.

Oak Forest must perform super heating, which is turning the hot water tank and boilers to 160 degrees for three hours and then purging the water lines for at least five minutes. The company must consult with an engineering company that specializes in the control of Legionella and get a thorough assessment of the water system in the building.

Local and state health agencies will continue testing people at the facility to identify any other cases.To learn more about the disease and its symptoms click on Legionella.

According to the health department, as of June 30 there have been 43 confirmed cases in North Carolina, five of them in Forsyth County.


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