The Multnomah County Health Department confirmed a new case of Legionnaires’ disease in a North Portland senior apartment complex in late September. Since January, a number of infections have been linked to the waterborne illness.The outbreak at Rosemont Court, an affordable housing complex for people 55 and older, has resulted in ten confirmed Legionnaires’ cases, one death, and four presumptive cases.The county confirmed in January that there had been an outbreak at the North Dekum Street building, which had killed one person and hospitalised three others.
About 100 people were evacuated from the building while the county turned off the water and disinfected the system.While residents returned to the building in early February, they have continued to contract Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by the bacteria Legionella, which lives in water and is spread when humans breathe small droplets containing the bacteria.
According to an OPB report, while the building’s management company, Northwest Housing Alternatives, has offered to permanently relocate some of the residents, many have struggled to find affordable housing elsewhere. On Thursday, a Rosemont Court resident sued the property management company, alleging that despite being aware of the unsafe living conditions, they did not take action to improve them.
Willamette Week was the first to report on the lawsuit. Multnomah County spokesperson Julie Sullivan-Springhetti stated that the county has worked with Legionella experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who have stated that it is not uncommon for Legionnaires’ cases to persist even after a water system has been disinfected.The county, according to Sullivan-Springhetti, supports Northwest Housing Alternatives’ offers to relocate residents.
“The most recent case indicates that there is still some risk to Rosemont Court residents, but it’s difficult to quantify,” she said. “We are collaborating with them on a number of fronts, with the understanding that there are other consequences to moving people out of an established community, as well as challenges in finding affordable housing.”
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