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1 Dead, 4 Hospitalized in Portland Legionnaires' Disease Outbreak

The outbreak at Rosemont Court, a North Portland senior housing complex, was traced to the water supply.
January 6, 2021

More than 100 residents of a North Portland senior housing complex were evacuated from their homes Tuesday after a bacterial pneumonia outbreak, known as Legionnaires’ disease, killed one person and hospitalized four others.

The Multnomah County Health Department said Tuesday that health officials determined on Jan. 4 that the bacteria had likely entered the water supply at the Rosemont Court senior living complex.

Health officials say Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious and most health people exposed to Legionella bacteria do not get sick, but for people at an increased risk, breathing in droplets of water with the bacteria can can lead to severe pneumonia.

It is not yet clear how many residents are sick.

After discovering the issue, Multnomah County officials offered residents temporary housing at motels and provided bottled water, handwashing stations and other amenities. Twenty people left Rosemont Court Monday night with others relocating Tuesday.

“This is a unique and concerning situation,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County Health Officer, “and we are working with our partners as quickly as we can to determine if other properties or water sources are affected.”

This story was originally published by Oregon Public Broadcasting and is shared here through a partnership with Northwest media groups.