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Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease, and he has regained millions of dollars for them. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ at Saint Columbkille Church, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation, or complete the following:

Legionella bacteria has sickened six individuals in suburban Cleveland, and health inspectors said they believe the source of the illness may be Saint Columbkille Church, where all six are parishioners, according to a statement by The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

Cleveland 19 reporter Lacey Crisp reported that a woman who resided in Parma, which is located about 10 miles south of Cleveland, died from complications of Legionnaires’ disease. The victim’s son told Crisp his mother was a parishioner at the church.

It is unknown whether the woman has been included as one of the six parishioners confirmed to be ill. No other information was provided on the health status, age or gender of those sickened.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) notified church administrators of the six potential cases of Legionnaires’ disease. CCBH officials have visited Saint Columbkille Church multiple times, conducting environmental tests to determine if Legionella bacteria exists on church grounds.

The church shut down its air conditioning units on the recommendation of the CCBH. The building will not be used until environmental test results are returned.

Anyone who has visited St. Columbkille Church or even merely traveled through the Parma neighborhood and are feeling flu-like symptoms (see below) are being advised to seek immediate care from their doctor.

Legionella cannot be spread from person-to-person, and most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill, the Ohio Department of Health said. When caught early, Legionnaires’ disease is treatable with antibiotics.

Saint Columbkille Church may be Legionnaires' source

Saint Columbkille Church in suburban Cleveland is being investigated in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. Six parishioners have been sickened; one has died.

Saint Columbkille Church: Legionnaires’ or Pontiac fever?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who become ill after being exposed to Legionella develop one of two illnesses: Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac Fever.

Legionnaires’ disease (legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia) is similar to other types of pneumonia, which is an infection of the air sacs in one or both lungs that can produce fluid in the lungs. Legionnaires’ disease symptoms can resemble common flu symptoms, such as:

  • fever
  • cough
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • severe headaches
  • exhaustion
  • loss of appetite
  • confusion
  • difficulty breathing
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Symptoms of Pontiac fever are similar to those of Legionnaires’ disease:

  • dry cough or sore throat
  • fever, chills, and muscle pain
  • fatigue and trouble falling asleep
  • headaches and dizziness
  • gastrointestinal distress (diarrhea, upset stomach, and no appetite for food)
  • chest pain
  • problems thinking clearly.

Pontiac fever, however, is a milder infection than Legionnaires’ disease. Someone with Pontiac fever does not develop pneumonia.

Saint Columbkille Church: disease info

Legionnaires’ disease is “an emerging disease in the sense that the number of recorded cases of Legionnaires’ in the United States continues to increase,” said Laura Cooley, MD, MPH of the CDC’s Respiratory Diseases Branch. She said she believes the increase is because the U.S. population is more susceptible because more and more people on immunosuppressive medications.

Cooley also suggested there could be more Legionella in the environment, because warmer temperatures are creating ideal conditions for bacterial growth.

Legionella sources
Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks have been linked to numerous sources, such as:

  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • large plumbing systems
  • water systems like those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom faucets and showers
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools like those in hotel pool areas and on cruise ships
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines like those in the produce sections of grocery stores
  • hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.

About 25,000 cases yearly
According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur each year in the United States. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

About 10 percent of patients infected with Legionnaires’ disease will die from the illness.

Legionella bacteria are generally contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (vapor or mist). The bacteria grow best in warm water, and they are found primarily in human-made environments.