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Three cases of Legionnaires' disease at senior living facility: What could have prevented it?

Home is where you go to go to relax. But what would you do if your typical self-care activities — like taking a hot shower or drawing a soothing bath — put you at risk for a potentially severe disease?


Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection that is spread through water.  This condition is concerning, especially for those over the age of 50, smokers, and individuals with weakened immune systems.


CDC waterborne disease Facts  burden-1667x819

Content source: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNational Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED)


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite that each year 7,000 deaths are related to waterborne illnesses. Of those deaths, 91 percent were associated with pathogens that grow in water systems, including Legionnaires’ disease.


Legionnaires' cases in assisted living facilities

Let’s take a moment to go back and remember the hypothetical situation of catching a disease in your nighttime bath. That make-believe scenario became reality in Newark, New Jersey when three cases of Legionnaires’ disease were confirmed at a senior apartment facility.


In addition to emergency meetings between health officials and building managers, residents of the senior living facility expressed their worry regarding Legionnaires’ disease. One woman stated, “I’m very concerned, very. My level is 10.”


Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia. It is caused by legionella bacteria and is commonly characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle ache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea

Be sure to contact your doctor or local health department if you believe you were exposed to Legionnaires’ disease and if you develop any symptoms of the illness.


Why Legionnaires' Disease is especially dangerous in assisted living facilities

Typically, Legionnaires’ disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics. However, certain individuals may be at an increased risk for infection, including those who fall into the following categories:

  • Over the age of 50
  • Smokers
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Cancer
  • Underlying illnesses, like diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure

These groups are more susceptible to potential complications of Legionnaires’ disease, which is why assisted living facilities with older populations are at heightened risk.


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How to reduce the chances of waterborne pathogen illnesses in assisted living facilities


According to the CDC, keeping bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease out of water systems is key to preventing the spread infection throughout buildings. The disease is spread through water vapor and droplets, commonly out of sinks and shower systems. Therefore, stopping the bacteria at the source is essential.

CDC legionella-affects-water-systems


Showers Can Spread LD 

As noted in the infographic, showers are a common location where Legionella bacteria breeds. That’s why Chicago Faucets designed the auto-drain shower system to help fight this preventable deadly disease.


What is the auto-drain shower system?

  • A shower system with a drain that automatically removes standing water in the column between the shower valve and showerhead. This eliminates stagnant water that could cause illness, including Legionella.
  • The system automatically drains the water column between the shower valve and the hand-held shower spray.


Although the risk of infection is present in standard showers, our auto-drain shower system helps to minimize that risk by properly removing standing water. When standing water is eliminated, so are the pathogens that grow in this stagnant liquid. By removing the standing water with an auto-drain system, you are safeguarding your health-care patients and building residents.

Additionally, the auto-drain shower system comes in three versions to best fit the needs of your facility, including the following models:

  • Fixed shower head
  • Hand spray with hose
  • Retrofit kit for existing shower hose

Moving forward with an auto-drain shower system




Are you ready to take the next step toward a safer facility? Purchase your auto-drain shower system today! Click here to get in touch with a representative in your area that can set you up with an auto-drain shower system for your building.

Topics: Patient Care, Healthcare, Infection Prevention