A bacterium which triggers respiratory disease has been detected in the water systems of two Pennsylvania nursing facilities.
On Friday, local officials confirmed that new restrictions were being implemented after Legionella pneumophila was discovered in the water at the two Kane Regional nursing homes.
The bacteria causes Legionnaires' disease, a form of pneumonia that can often prove fatal to people with deficient immune systems, especially older people. It lives in water and can be especially hard to eradicate because it forms slimy biofilms that protect the bacteria.
Symptoms of the disease include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches.
Every year, L. pneumophila results in 10,000 cases of Legionnaires' disease worldwide, with many of these instances occurring in the US. Although guidelines have been published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Legionnaires' disease often results in tragedy.
In 2015, 14 people died as a result of the infection, while 140 others fell ill (three of these occurred in the Bronx, New York).
Legionella thrives in warm tap water. The four Kane centers had copper-silver ionization water treatment systems installed after the microorganism was detected at Kane McKeesport and Kane Glen Hazel.
McKeesport houses some 270 residents, while Glen Hazel is home to around 200 people.
TribLive reports that bottled water is being doled out, shower restrictions are being implemented, and the ice machine is out of use at one unit in each facility as a result of the discovery.
"Directors are working closely with, and following the recommendations of, the Health Department," a TribLive reports the country saying in a press release. "Additionally, the vendors that installed the water treatment systems and ice machine filters will be consulted to make any necessary adjustments."