Priority Health: Testing underway for possible Legionnaires' disease at Clearwater retirement center

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 03, 2013, 9:43 PM EDT

Regency Oaks retirement center in Clearwater is under investigation after two reports of Legionnaires’ disease.

The Department of Health started inspecting the facility after two reports there.

One man diagnosed with the disease has passed away, his cause of death has not been confirmed. Another patient is recovering from respiratory symptoms.

Director of the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, Dr. Douglas Holt says Legionnaires’ is a type of pneumonia contracted by breathing in mists of water contaminated with the bacteria.

"Symptoms begin with a cough, fever, headache and then it progresses to shortness of breath and typically you don’t cough up a lot of ugly sputum, it’s usually kind of a dry cough," said Dr. Holt.

Sources can come from: swimming pools, shower heads, hot tubs, air conditioning systems and decorative fountains.

Dr. Holt says the disease can be treated with an antibiotic. It can also be fatal, especially in the very young, old and those with other medical problems.

Regency Oaks tells Bay News 9 they are undergoing aggressive environmental testing of its air-handling and plumbing systems, along with other water sources in the community.

As a precaution, the facility has closed the pool, whirlpool and decorative fountain, while workers wait for test results.