BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – As nursing homes and other long term care facilities over southeast Michigan struggle to prevent outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19), one is now dealing with a case of Legionnaires’ disease.
The Oakland County Health Department started investigating on June 8 after a resident contracted Legionnaires’ disease. The first round of samples came back negative.
“It’s very challenging, again, Legionnaires’ disease does mimic a lot of the symptoms of COVID-19,” Mark Hansell with the Oakland County Health Department said.
There are about 140 residents at SKLD Bloomfield Hills, a nursing home and long term care facility in Oakland County.
“We’re especially concerned about health care systems because it’s home to so many vulnerable people with weakened immune systems and underlying conditions that make them more susceptible to Legionnaires,” Hansell said.
Coronavirus had already limited movement inside nursing homes. Now, after a resident tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease the facility can no longer use its running water.
“They’ve been placed on water restrictions right now, so bottled water and bagged ice from another source,” Hansell said. “The water restrictions will stay in place until the investigation is over.”
So far, testing samples of the facility’s water system show the bacteria has not spread. But the health department is especially concerned about the nursing home’s elderly population.
“Symptoms can last quite awhile and most cases do result in hospitalization. The more severe cases, it can result in being on a ventilator,” Hansell said.
The health department said the patient who tested positive is expected to recover. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the health department said it’s taking extra precautions.
The health department will be there twice a month for the next three months. They’re also doing an additional three months of testing. Which means some version of water restrictions will remain in place until the end of the year.