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Legionnaires' disease leaves Baltimore apartment complex residents unable to use showers for weeks

Residents of a north Baltimore apartment complex haven’t been able to shower or drink from their faucets for nearly a month because of several cases of Legionnaires’ disease, according to the Baltimore City Health Department.

The disease has prompted a partial shutdown of water since Sept. 7 at The Metropolitan of Baltimore apartment complex at 6101 Loch Raven Blvd. Washing hands, bathing and flushing of toilets are still permitted under the restrictions — though management said residents shouldn’t be in the bathroom while bath water is running to avoid breathing in vapors.

“Water restrictions will remain in place until the Baltimore City Health Department working with Maryland Department of Health and property management confirm that remediation of the water system has been effective in reducing Legionella levels,” wrote Mona M. Rock, a health department spokeswoman, in an email to The Sun.

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

The Legionella bacterium can be found in wet environments including cooling towers, humidifiers, showers and spas, according to the health department.

One resident, who notified The Baltimore Sun of the problem, said residents feel frustrated because it has been almost a month since they had regular water usage. The resident said management has held meetings with the residents, but only during working hours, so few have been able to attend.'

Allen & Rocks Inc., the manager of The Metropolitan of Baltimore, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“I feel like we’re living in a third-world country in the United States,” said the resident, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by the apartment management.

According to a memo sent to residents by Allen & Rocks to residents and forwarded to The Baltimore Sun, management treated the water systems throughout the building Sept. 8, which greatly decreased Legionella bacteria in the building. The memo, dated Sept. 20, indicates that management also planned to replace shower heads and aerators in all units and flush the entire water system with chlorine solution.

The Metropolitan Legionnaires’ water restrictions occurred around the same time that Eastern Family Resource Center in Rossville restricted the use of water at the facility after two people 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.

So far this year, there have been 236 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease throughout the state, according to a spokesperson with the Maryland Department of Health.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Cody Boteler contributed to this article.

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