The Fulton Presbyterian Manor senior living facility is being investigated by Missouri health officials after two residents were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
Officials at Fulton Presbyterian Manor (811 Center Street) are working with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and Callaway County Health Department to locate the source of the Legionella, which is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially deadly type of lung disease.
“We’ve not found the source of it yet,” said Sharon Lynch, a Callaway County Health Department administrator. “It’s in the soil; it’s not like it’s an odd thing.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, Legionella bacteria that survive outdoors in soil and water rarely cause infections.
Fulton Presbyterian Manor: “opportunistic” bacteria
Legionella, however, can become a health concern when the bacteria grow and spread in human-made building water systems, such as:
- large plumbing systems
- showerheads and sink faucets
- building cooling towers, which are structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems
- hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
- water features, such as decorative fountains
- hot water heaters and tanks.
“Usually it’s in the environment, and usually (it affects) someone with a weakened immune system,” Lynch said. “There are usually a few deaths a year, and usually in the elderly. It’s opportunistic.”
Fulton Presbyterian Manor: symptoms
Missouri health officials are advising that if you are a resident, visitor or employee of Fulton Presbyterian Manor and you are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should visit your health-care provider. Those symptoms can include:
- muscle aches
- fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
By the second or third day, other symptoms can develop, including:
- coughing, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
- shortness of breath (or dyspnea)
- chest pains (or pleurisy)
- gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea)
- confusion and other mental changes.
Although the lungs are the primary target of Legionnaire’s disease, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.
Fulton Presbyterian Manor: high-risk groups
Anyone can contract Legionnaires’ disease (also called legionellosis), but people with the highest risk of infection include:
- anyone 50 years old or older
- smokers, both current and former
- anyone with a chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which most commonly involves bronchitis or asthma
- anyone with a compromised immune system
Fulton Presbyterian Manor: complications
After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is usually necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can occur, such as:
- endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart’s inner lining that can affect the ability of the heart to maintain adequate blood flow in the body.
- kidney failure, which can occur when Legionella toxins damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood.
- pericarditis, which is swelling of the pericardium, the primary membrane around the heart. This can also affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood.
- respiratory failure, which is caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
- septic shock, which can occur when Legionella toxins enter the blood stream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.
Fulton Presbyterian Manor: tests negative
Missouri officials and a private water-management company were unable to locate the Legionella source after two rounds of environmental and water sampling tests.
Said Bill Taylor, chief operations officer for Presbyterian Manors Mid-America, the facility’s owner: “PMMA communities follow detailed policies to ensure the best outcomes for these kinds of challenges. The organization has a simple and straightforward philosophy when it comes to the matter of resident, employee and public safety: safety first.”
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: