OCOEE, Fla. — Officials were investigating an Ocoee gym Wednesday after three people who used the facility recently came down with Legionnaires’ disease.
The Florida Department of Health contacted management at L.A. Fitness on Silver Star Road after the infections were detected.
While the outbreak of the dangerous bacterial infection has not been conclusively linked to the gym, management said they wanted customers to know they may have been exposed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria.
The bacteria can grow in contaminated water and infections happen when an individual inhales water droplets in the air, the CDC said.
The most common sources of water containing the Legionnaires’ disease bacteria are showers, cooling towers, decorative fountains and hot tubs, the CDC said.
L.A. Fitness member Chris Wilson did not know what Legionnaires' disease was until he was contacted by the gym about the possible contamination.
“I never heard of it, so when I was reading the email yesterday, it was kind of explaining what it’s all about and I was like, ‘That’s not good,’” he said.
People most at risk for Legionnaires’ disease are current or former smokers, people with chronic lung disease and anyone with a weakened immune system, the CDC said.
The fact that several people from the same gym were infected is concerning, pulmonologist Dr. Irtza Sharif said.
“You do sometimes see clusters of it, meaning that it’s a public health concern,” Sharif said.
There are treatments for Legionnaires’ infections, but most people who get sick need treatment at a hospital, the CDC said.
Management at L.A. Fitness was making visible efforts to rectify any possible sources of contamination, Wilson said.
“I just saw a staff member talking to somebody in there saying that they had just switched out the heads on the shower and, I guess, they flushed out the whole system,” he said.
"We were notified last Thursday by the Florida Department of Health in Orange County of a potential exposure to legionellosis at our Ocoee facility. We share in their concern, and we are working closely and diligently with them to address it. Although it has not been conclusively shown through testing that the exposure took place at our facility, the DOH-Orange has recommended we take certain measures to remediate and to notify the members who used the club over the 4 weeks prior to last Thursday. Also, out of extreme caution, we separately enlisted the services of Nalco Water, which provides expertise in water treatment. They performed the remediation steps the DOH-Orange advised, as well as other measures they recommended (again, out of an abundance of caution). Our entire club and all facilities and amenities are currently available for use. We will continue to conduct further testing."