Legionnaires' bacteria found in water at second Catonsville retirement village building

Caton Woods at Charlestown retirement community, a new assisted-living residence building. Credit: Michael Woodard
Caton Woods at Charlestown retirement community, a new assisted-living residence building. Credit: Michael Woodard (HANDOUT)

Water-use restrictions are in place at a second building in the Charlestown retirement community in Catonsville after preliminary tests revealed low levels of the Legionnaires' disease bacteria in water.

Low to "inconclusive" levels of the bacteria were found in water at the Caton Woods and the Renaissance Gardens Terrace buildings, said Dan Dunne, a spokesman for Erickson Living, the company that manages Charlestown.


The buildings, which provide assisted living accommodations, are adjacent to each other.

The county's health department and a local hospital on Dec. 5 notified Charlestown about a Caton Woods resident diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease — a potentially deadly respiratory illness — and the health department ordered restrictions on water use at Caton Woods.


No other cases of the disease have been reported at the retirement community, Dunne said.

Residents in both buildings are being given bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth until the systems are declared safe. Residents also are being discouraged from taking showers and have been told to take baths, Dunne said. They also have been told they can use tap water for flushing toilets, cooking and washing hands. For washing dishes, residents have been advised to fill their sinks slowly to minimize production of spray mist, Dunne said.

A resident of the newest building at Charlestown retirement community in Catonsville has been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.

Other buildings on the 110-acre campus were tested in September, as part of Charlestown's quarterly testing protocol. Results from those tests were negative for the Legionella bacteria, Dunne said.

Residents started moving in November from the 29-year-old Renaissance Gardens Terrace building to Caton Woods, a recently opened $30 million building. Moves were paused after the resident's diagnosis but resumed late last week, Dunne said.

There are 87 residents now living at Caton Woods, a building that can house 116.

The water restrictions will remain in place until at least Friday when complete results from the first round of testing are anticipated, Dunne said.

Monique Lyle, a spokeswoman for the county health department, said the department is waiting for the full results before making additional recommendations.

The resident who was diagnosed with Legionnaire's disease has been released from the hospital, Lyle said.

Dunne said the resident has returned to Charlestown's Dorsey Center rehabilitation section, where residents typically go after a hospital stay. It is not known if the resident will return to Caton Woods, Dunne said.

It is unknown how the resident contracted the disease, Dunne said.

Dunne said he is unaware of any previous Legionnaires' cases at the gated community, home to about 2,100 residents.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia that is typically spread through water, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is treated by antibiotics, but about one in 10 people die from the infection. Symptoms include cough, muscle aches, fever, shortness of breath or headaches.


Each year, about 5,000 cases are reported in the United States, according to the CDC.

People over the age of 50 are at an increased risk of getting sick after being exposed to the Legionella bacteria, as well as current and former smokers and those with a chronic lung disease or a weak immune system.

In June, a new retirement community in Ellicott City imposed water restrictions after two residents were diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease in the spring.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun