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Legionnaires outbreak persists at Portland apartment complex

October 15, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Officials have confirmed that a North Portland apartment complex had a new case of Legionnaires’ disease in late September, the latest in an outbreak attributed to the waterborne illness since January.

The Multnomah County Health Department said the outbreak at Rosemount Court, the affordable housing complex for people age 55 and older has resulted in 10 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’, including one death, and four presumptive cases.

In January, the county said an outbreak at the North Dekum Street building had killed one person and hospitalized three others, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. About 100 residents temporarily left while the county shut off the water and disinfected the system.

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The disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella, which lives in water and is spread when humans breathe small droplets containing the bacteria.

While the building management, Northwest Housing Alternatives, has offered to permanently relocate some residents, many have struggled to find affordable housing, according to an Oregon Public Broadcasting report.

Multnomah County spokesperson Julie Sullivan-Springhetti said the county has worked with Legionella experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have said it’s not uncommon for Legionnaires’ cases to linger after a water system has been disinfected.

“The most recent case suggests there is still some risk to Rosemont Court residents, but it’s hard to quantify,” she said. “We are working with them on multiple fronts.”