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Allegheny County tests show Beechtree Commons' water system free of Legionella bacteria

Michael DiVittorio
| Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 1:17 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 water system of a Penn Hills senior housing complex where a resident was recently diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease does not contain Legionella bacteria, according to test results released last week by the Allegheny County Health Department.

“It is still unknown where a resident acquired the infection, as the individual had been at other locations during the exposure period,” public health information officer Ryan Scarpino said. “The water is clean, and there are no more cases there.”

National Church Residences, which operates the two-building complex with 100 residents at 6460 Leechburg Road, was notified of a resident having Legionnaires' disease on Nov. 2.

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 it 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 the disease.

Beechtree has been providing bottled water to residents since the case was discovered.

“We are very pleased with the Health Department and the work that they've done with us, and the staff as well,” said Karen Twinem, National Church's vice president of communications. “We hope they can find where the source is.”

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367 or

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