Second Person Diagnosed With Legionnaires' Disease at DC Retirement Community

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia that can spread through a building's plumbing system

A second resident of a retirement community in Northwest D.C. has been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, prompting concerns that the highly contagious bacteria could spread. 

A D.C. health department spokeswoman said Tuesday that the second person affected also is a resident of Ingleside at Rock Creek, on Military Road. 

Both people developed symptoms before building management imposed restrictions on water use, the health department said. 

Information on either person's condition was not available. 

The D.C. Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and DC Water to investigate the source of the disease, officials told News4 on Monday.

Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia caused by a bacteria that can thrive in buildings with complex water systems like hotels and long-term care facilities, according to the CDC. Symptoms include a cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches.

Most healthy people will not become infected after exposure. Older people are at particular risk, though, and the disease kills 1 in 10 patients infected. The CDC says you can become infected with the bacteria by inhaling water droplets.

Ingleside at Rock Creek residents were instructed to restrict water usage and refrain from drinking tap water, boiling it, showering or using machines that produce mist until filters are installed.

DC Water says the city water supply is safe. 

"We can assure District residents that this issue is isolated to the facility and that the drinking water DC Water distributes to the general population is safe," a spokesman said in a statement. 

It will be 8 to 10 days before test results come back on the water in the retirement community, according to a letter dated Wednesday from Ingleside at Rock Creek Executive Director Frank Beech. Building management said they were providing bottled water and other supplies until residents know whether the water is safe.

The high-end retirement community touts its ethos of "engaged living."

"The community includes retirees from the Foreign Service and the Department of State, former educators from the highest levels of academia, writers and musicians and successful entrepreneurs, all with a common view of elegant living in retirement," its website says.

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