Environmental sampling at Ohio Catholic church after Legionnaires' disease outbreak

Environmental sampling at Ohio Catholic church after Legionnaires’ disease outbreak

Environmental sampling at Ohio Catholic church after Legionnaires’ disease outbreak

St. Columbkille church in Parma, Ohio. (Credit: Diocese of Cleveland.)

Officials with a health board in Ohio say 11 cases of Legionnaires' disease have been confirmed in a Cleveland suburb, with one death reported. A local Catholic parish is being tested for the disease.

PARMA, Ohio — Officials with a health board in Ohio say 11 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been confirmed in a Cleveland suburb, with one death reported.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health says 10 patients were hospitalized. A 93 year-old Parma woman died July 5.

Kevin Brennan, a board spokesman says the illnesses all occurred between early June and July among parishioners of the Saint Columbkille Parish in Parma. Brennan says it hasn’t been proven the illness was contracted there.

The board is working with officials of the Catholic parish and conducting environmental sampling. The parish has about 3,000 households, and an elementary school.

Deacon Jim Armstrong, a spokesman for the Diocese of Cleveland, says the Catholic parish is fully cooperating.

“St. Columbkille Parish is committed to ensuring the safety of its parishioners and all who may visit the parish. The parish continues to fully cooperate in the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s ongoing investigation into the potential cause of the reported cases of legionella involving St. Columbkille parishioners,” said a statement from the diocese.

“Inspectors from the Board of Health have visited the parish multiple times in recent days and have found no evidence that St. Columbkille Parish is the cause of these cases,” the statement continued.

The diocese said additional testing was conducted by the Board of Health on Tuesday, although it may take several days or more before the results of that testing are received. In the meantime, St. Columbkille Parish is following all recommended actions provided by the Board of Health.

The disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by people breathing in water droplets containing Legionella bacteria.

“It could be coming from a lot of different places,” said Brennan told The Plain Dealer. “We don’t want to presume (the church) is a hotbed of infection.”

Crux staff contributed to this report.

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