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State Investigating Legionnaires' Fatality

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Chriz Mars
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The health department is investigating another Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Central Florida – including a fatal case.

Two cases have been confirmed in Lake County. A third patient tested negative with an initial urine test, but results of a more complete culture test could take another week to come back.

“The two individuals who tested positive by urine antigen testing both have at this time recovered and returned home,” said Giselle Barreto with the Florida Department of Health in Lake County. “The third case we’re currently investigating, but has not presented with any positive results, has since then expired.”

Health officials think they caught Legionnaires’ disease at the pool and Jacuzzi area of Summit Greens, a senior community in Clermont. 

 Patty Dooley, Summit Greens Residents’ Association president, released a written statement.

“The Association’s pool cleaning vendor is aware of the concern, and as a precaution they were here on Thursday, June 8, 2017, to perform a remediation in accordance with the protocol of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The remediation is completed and the spa has been re-opened.”

Nationwide, about 1 in 10 people who catch Legionnaires’ disease die. Legionella bacteria usually sickens older adults, or people with chronic lung conditions. Epidemiologists are also tracking four cases in Orange County at a pair of LA Fitness gyms.

Officials with the health department in Lake County say Summit Greens resident should be vigilant for symptoms because Legionella has a two-week incubation period.

“So we urge residents that have been exposed to the hot tub on June 6 or before to still monitor for the development of symptoms as we’re still within that 14-day period,” Barreto said.

Symptoms include a high fever, cough, shortness of breath and aches. These are the first cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Lake County, while Orange County has seen 17 cases this year. Overall, Florida has seen 144 cases of Legionnaires’ this year.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.