Elliot Olsen has more than two decades’ experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease, and he has regained millions of dollars in compensation for them. If you or a family member were sickened in this Florida gated community Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, please call him at 612-337-6126, or complete the following:
UPDATE, MARCH 13
Legionella bacteria was positively identified by the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (FDOH) after testing of a hot water heater in the fitness area at the IslandWalk at West Villages gated community in North Port, FL. The number of confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the outbreak is 13.
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 28
A Florida gated community has been hit with a potentially sizeable Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, according to multiple news reports.
Three illnesses have been confirmed – and as many as 25 people may have been infected – at the IslandWalk at the West Villages gated community in North Port, a city of about 60,000 residents in southern Sarasota County.
The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County (SCHD) is investigating the outbreak at IslandWalk. Officials at the Florida gated community have temporarily shut down the pool and spa after being advised of the illnesses.
According to an email sent out by a spokesperson for the facility: “The pool and spa were closed within 30 minutes of being contacted, and residents were notified. The facilities will remain closed pending further testing. We are working with the Sarasota Department of Health to get this issue resolved. Our first priority is the safety of our residents.”
The outbreak was first diagnosed at IslandWalk by Dr. Ahmed Farooq, an infectious disease physician with Venice Regional Bayfront Health.
Dr. Farooq contacted the health department after he discovered the first case. He told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that after diagnosing the second case of Legionnaires’ disease, he then pinpointed the IslandWalk’s hot tub as the common denominator.
Florida gated community:
Reports vary on outbreak size
Farooq could not provide a definitive number of illnesses, but he said quite a few people have been treated.
A report on keephealthcare.org stated an “IslandWalk resident who called the Herald-Tribune said as many as 25 people may have been affected.” Another report, by WFLA-TV, said, “residents say at least 11 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment.”
A Sarasota Memorial Hospital spokesperson told the Herald-Tribune: “Three cases were diagnosed at the hospital last weekend.”
Florida gated community:
Pool, spa are likely sources
Michael Drennon, the SCHD director of disease intervention, said: “We believe it may be the pool or spa area in the community that these individuals live in. We want to do some specialized testing of the water sources there.
“The really important thing is identifying the source.”
Said Tom Higginbotham, the SCHD’s environmental health director: “We’re going to test the irrigation system [and] anything else that we think could be a potential source,”
The community’s irrigation system draws water out of untreated lakes. Legionella, which is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, is found naturally in such freshwater environments.
Test results are expected within the next two weeks.
Florida gated community:
IslandWalk at the West Villages
IslandWalk at the West Villages is an 830-acre, gated, lakefront community of numerous types of residences: luxury single-family homes, patio homes, and townhomes.
The IslandWalk residences are surrounded by lakes and preserves. The community’s features include a resort center, fitness center, movement studio, resort and lap pools, and sports courts.
Residents or visitors to the Florida gated community who are exhibiting pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms (see symptoms below) should seek immediate medical attention from their primary health-care provider.
Legionnaires’ disease facts and figures
After Legionella grow and multiply in a community’s water system, the contaminated water spreads in droplets small enough to inhale. When the bacteria reach the lungs, they can cause people to become ill with Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionella become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made environments, such as:
- pools and hot tubs
- showers and faucets
- decorative fountains and water features
- hot-water tanks and heaters
- large plumbing systems, like those used in hotels, assisted living facilities, and gated communities
- cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings).
Individuals at increased risk
Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick. People who meet any of the following criteria are at higher risk:
- people 50 or older
- current or former smokers
- people with undisclosed illnesses, such as diabetes, kidney failure or liver failure
- people with weakened immune systems
- people with chronic lung disease
- people with cancer.
Symptoms are numerous
Legionnaires’ disease is similar to other types of pneumonia (lung infection). Symptoms can resemble flu-like symptoms in the following forms:
- shortness of breath
- muscle aches
- gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.