Legionnaires’ disease confirmed at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown

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MIDDLETOWN — A patient at Connecticut Valley Hospital has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a condition that causes pneumonia-like symptoms.

The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Department of Public Health confirmed the diagnosis Tuesday.  They said the patient is doing well with treatment at a local hospital.

A second person is also being treated as such while DPH waits for the lab results to confirm if that person also has the disease.

“We have up to 22 cases, so this is not the only case we’ve seen, but because it’s a state facility and we want to be proactive we decided to disclose this information,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Raul Pino.

Legionella, the bacteria that causes the disease, is found in soil and warm water, including in cooling towers, hot tubs, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, air conditioners and decorative fountains, according to the Center for Disease Control.  The Department of Public Health says that when it can cause a serious form of pneumonia when it becomes airborne.

State health officials are now investigating the source of the bacteria at CVH to see specifically how the patients there contracted the disease.

“We are working closely with Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to determine the source of the legionellosis and to advise on additional steps that may be required to remediate the source and protect patients and staff,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino said.

In Connecticut, there are typically 50 to 80 cases of Legionnaires’ disease each year.  The CDC reports there are roughly 5,000 cases of the disease a year nationwide.

“While this is something state government is taking very seriously, I would encourage the public to not be alarmed. We will continue to work diligently until this is resolved and provide updates as needed,” Gov. Dan Malloy said in a statement responding to the situation.

Officials say this case is different from a recent outbreak in New York caused by contaminated water cooling towers on top of a hospital.  That water dripped down onto pedestrians, hospital staff, and patients on the sidewalk below.