Bacteria found in Shelton nursing home water ‘not a public health threat’

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Gardner Heights Health Care Center in Shelton, Conn.

Gardner Heights Health Care Center in Shelton, Conn.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Health officials stress there is no health emergency after Legionella — the bacteria that can lead to Legionnaire’s Disease — was detected in the water at Gardner Heights Health Care Center this week.

Naugatuck Valley Health District Director Jess Kristy confirmed to Hearst Connecticut Media on Wednesday that there are no human cases at the center, which is located on Rocky Rest Road, and it is her understanding that there is “not a public health threat at this time.”

Kristy said Legionella bacteria was found during routine water sampling but was well under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention threshold.

Kristy said the state health department is the lead agency on the issue, not the local health district.

Gardner Heights administrators did not return requests for comment. The state Department of Public Health also did not return a request for comment.

According to the CDC website, Legionella bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella bacteria can also cause a less serious illness called Pontiac fever.

Legionella bacteria are found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams, according to the CDC. “The bacteria can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made building water systems” like showerheads and sink faucets, hot tubs, hot water tanks and heaters, according to the CDC website.

“People can get Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria,” the CDC states. People don’t generally spread these illnesses to others and, if healthy, a person exposed to the bacteria would not necessarily get sick.

Those over the age of 50 and those with underlying medical issues are most at risk of getting sick.

For more information on Legionella and Legionnaire’s Disease, visit the state DPH site at https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Epidemiology-and-Emerging-Infections/Legionnaires-disease or the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com