One person is dead and many others have been sickened in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida. Located in Ocala, Coleman is the largest prison complex in the United States comprised of multiple facilities including a women’s camp and a medium-security facility for men.
At the women’s camp, four confirmed cases and 29 suspected cases have been reported since January. But authorities have not released the total number of cases at the medium-security facility for men where, days ago, Gerald Davis died from his infection. Davis, who had asthma, was having trouble breathing after he got sick and asked for medical help four times before he was taken to the hospital, according to the Miami Herald.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia that is transmitted when water mist contaminated with Legionella bacteria is inhaled. It is not spread through person-to-person contact.
Legionella bacteria exist in nature but grow best in warm, stagnant water. Outbreaks are often associated with the complex plumbing systems of hospitals, hotels and long-term care facilities.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache and muscle aches. Some people are at higher risk of developing a Legionella infection than others. They include current and former smokers, people over 50 and people with weakened immune systems and people with underlying medical conditions such as asthma.