The Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued an advisory about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease among some people who have recently visited the Integrated Health Campus at 240 and 250 Cetronia Road in South Whitehall Township.
Legionnaires’ disease is a sometimes-fatal respiratory infection that can give patients flu-like symptoms, including muscle aches, headache, tiredness and dry cough followed by high fever, chills and occasionally diarrhea.
Temperatures commonly reach 102 to 105 degrees and subsequent chest radiographs often reveal pneumonia. The symptoms usually begin 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the bacteria.
The disease is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms mimic the flu, which is why the Department of Health is asking doctors to have a “heightened clinical suspicion” for Legionnaires’ among patients who visited the Cetronia Road facility within two weeks of contracting their respiratory illness.
The Health Department released the following list of healthcare providers and other businesses in the complex:250 Cetronia Road
Steel Fitness Premier
OAA Orthopaedic Specialists Imaging Center
Advanced Breast Care Imaging, LLC
Advanced Breast Care Imaging Treatment & Wellness Center
Center for Allergy and Asthma Care
Cetronia Primary Care
OAA Orthopaedic Specialists Physical Therapy and ORL Associates
Surgery Center of Allentown
Aesthetic Surgery Associates
Breast Care Specialists, PC
OAA Orthopaedic Specialists--Administrative Office
St. Luke's Center for Advanced Gynecological Care
Meade Educational Center
240 Cetronia Road
St. Luke's Allentown Cancer Center
Advanced Radiation Oncology Associates
St. Luke's Hospital Radiation Oncology
St. Luke's Allentown Infusion Center
St. Luke's Hospital Outpatient Laboratory
St. Luke's Center for Urology
Cardiothoracic Surgical Associates
General Surgical Care, P.C.
St. Luke's Bariatric and General Surgery
St. Luke's Neurological Associates
St. Luke's Neurodiagnostics
St. Luke's Sleep Disorder Center
Allen Valley Dental
St. Luke's Hematology--Oncology Specialists
St. Luke's Surgical Oncology
Legionnaires’ does not respond to common outpatient antibiotics, though there are certain medicines that are effective, the Health Department says.
If an outbreak occurs, an investigation to find the environmental source will take place, according to a Legionnaires’ disease fact sheet prepared by the Health Department.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the disease is commonly spread through drinking water systems, whirlpool spas and air conditioning cooling towers. Proper maintenance and disinfection of these systems is one way to prevent disease spread, according to the Health Department.
People with underlying illnesses or lowered immune systems are at higher risk, which is why outbreaks often occur in health care settings, the Health Department said.
According to the CDC, less than 5 percent of all people exposed to the Legionella bacteria responsible for the disease will contract Legionnaires’.
More commonly, they will contract Pontiac fever, another flu-like illness that causes fever, chills and malaise without pneumonia, is never fatal, and will pass within a week even without treatment, according to the CDC.
Legionnaires’ Disease gets its name from the first known outbreak of the sickness, which occurred at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976. Subsequently, the bacterium causing the illness was laboratory identified and named Legionella pneumophila.