One person has died and another is sick at a physical rehabilitation and senior wellness center in Rocky Hill after contracting Legionnaire’s disease.
State Department of Public Health officials said in a statement Friday they are conducting a joint investigation with the facility, Apple Rehab, after confirming two cases of Legionnaire’s disease, which is a potentially serious respiratory infection caused by bacteria in water.
The department said it was first notified of at least one of the cases on July 17 — Legionella bacteria were found in water samples at the rehab facility. Patients, staff and visitors have been notified about the water conditions.
The bacteria are normally found in freshwater lakes and streams, but can grow in human-made building water systems. People can become exposed if they ingest or inhale water droplets containing the bacterium.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most healthy people do not become sick and develop Legionnaire’s disease after being in contact with the bug, but some do. Older people, current or former smokers, and people with chronic lung disease, weakened immune systems, cancer or underlying illnesses like diabetes, kidney and liver failure have an increased risk of becoming sick.
Legionnaire’s disease is rarely spread from person to person, the CDC states.
DPH and Apple Rehab are looking to identify the environmental source of the bacteria, state officials said in a news release. Meanwhile, the water system at the rehab facility has been treated with chlorine and further testing is ongoing.