Legionnaires' disease leads to restricted water use at Baltimore County center

The Eastern Family Resource Center in Rossville is restricting the use of water at the facility after two individuals who “spent some time at the Center” were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, according to a press release from the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services.

Elyn Garrett-Jones, a spokeswoman for the center, said the restrictions could be in place for a minimum of two to three weeks, but officials have not determined a full timeline.

The center initiated water tests for the Legionella bacterium, and Garrett-Jones said the results could take 2-3 weeks to return.

“While it is possible that exposure in these cases could have happened somewhere else, in an abundance of caution, the Baltimore County Department of Health is limiting the oral consumption of water and discontinuing the use of showers at this facility,” the release said.

Instead of tap water, the center has made bottled water available for drinking, Garrett-Jones said.

The resource center offers women’s and families overnight and transitional shelters, and a men’s shelter. The center is open to county programs offering family planning, dental services, immunizations and other low-cost healthcare services.

Legionnaires’ disease comes from the Legionella bacterium, and can be found in wet environments including cooling towers, humidifiers, showers and spas, according to the health department.

The disease cannot be spread person-to-person, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Instead, most infections come from inhaling the bacteria through aerosolized water or particles of water in the air. The disease is a severe form of pneumonia.

Limiting water consumption and temporarily discontinuing showers at the Eastern Family Resource Center are an effort to reduce exposure to aerosolized water while waiting for test results, according to the health department.

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