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Resident found with Legionnaires' disease at Penn Hills senior complex

Michael DiVittorio
| Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, 3:51 p.m.
Allegheny County Health Department found a resident at Beechtree Commons in Penn Hills had a Legionella infection Nov. 2.
Michael DiVittorio | Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Health Department found a resident at Beechtree Commons in Penn Hills had a Legionella infection Nov. 2.

The Allegheny County Health Department has confirmed a case of Legionnaires' disease at Beechtree Commons, a senior housing community in Penn Hills.

National Church Residences, which operates the two-building complex with a total of 100 residents, was notified Thursday.

“(The department) has not confirmed where the resident acquired the infection, as the individual had been at other locations during the exposure period,” public health information officer Ryan Scarpino said. “(We) will continue to monitor this situation and will do further evaluations to determine the location where the resident became infected.

“Beechtree Commons is following all proper procedures recommended by ACHD, which includes testing of the potable water.”

The case was identified at building one at 6460 Leechburg Road. Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria in water. The disease is not easily transmitted from person-to-person; most people get Legionnaires' disease from inhaling mist containing the bacteria, according to the state health department. Older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires' disease.

“We took immediate action,” said Karen Twinem, National Church's vice president of communications. “Everybody moved quickly.”

She said bottled water was provided to all residents.

County health department officials were at Beechtree Commons on Friday to inform the other residents about the case.

The department tested Beechtree's water system, and the results are expected to be released Nov. 12.

“As soon as we know (the results), we'll know what our next steps will be,” Twinem said.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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