A man was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, which he reportedly contracted during his stay at a D.C. homeless shelter.
After the man’s case was confirmed by the D.C. health department, the city started testing the water supply at the men’s homeless shelter on the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital in Ward 8.
Water access at the facility was temporarily cut off on the night of January 2 in order to determine potential contaminants in the system. The staff distributed bottled water and wet wipes to over 300 residents of the shelter.
In addition, a water sample was sent to a lab for testing. The results will be ready in around two weeks.
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of lung infection that stems from Legionella bacteria. It spreads through the vapor or mist of contaminated water containing the bacteria and can be deadly.
The disease is known for symptoms such as coughing, high fever, shortness of breath, vomiting, muscle pains, headaches and diarrhea that emerge within two to 10 days of being infected.
“We’re working closely with the city to ensure that the residents are kept safe and following the direction and lead of the city,” a spokesperson for Catholic Charities in charge of social services at the shelter, said in a statement to DCist. “Catholic Charities is responsible for the social services being provided at these large low-barrier shelters, but the city manages the oversight, maintenance, and systems of these facilities. The staff at the shelter is keeping residents apprised of the situation as it unfolds.”
The incident was first reported by WJLA.