Health authorities in Waco, Texas, are investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease believed to be connected to the Waco Family YMCA.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria, which are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor.
“Exposure to the Legionella bacteria may have occurred at the Waco Family YMCA,” Rodney Martin, president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Texas, was quoted in a notice to visitors.
While the facility remains open to members and guests – after consultation with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District (WMCPHD) – officials closed the whirlpool area, which is adjacent to an indoor pool.
“The Waco Family YMCA will remain open to members, guests and program participants as all other areas of the Y are accessible, including the pool, gym, fitness, group exercise spaces and more,” the organization said. “The restricted area will not affect the operations of the Y or its ability to serve its guests.”
The source of the bacteria has not been identified.
“We have been in contact with both the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District as well as the Center for Disease Control and are following their recommendations,” Martin wrote in an e-mail. “We have also contacted an outside expert to complete testing of the Y’s water.”
Health officials work backward
Kelly Craine, public information officer for the WMCPHD, said once the department was notified of the cases, its staff began “working backward” to discover a common denominator between the patients and pinpoint a possible source of their infection.
“The hot tub has been closed, and it is the only area that’s been closed,” she said. “Because of the mist, you always want to look at the hot tub as a possible suspect.”
YMCA visitors may need to take action
Health district officials said they believe the two patients contracted the Legionella between Feb. 4 and Feb. 21.
If you are a member, visitor or employee of the YMCA, located at 6800 Harvey Road, and you used the whirlpool, swam in the pool or traveled through the whirlpool or pool area this month and are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider, according to Craine.