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Two LA Fitness Gyms Investigated For Legionnaires' Outbreak

This x-ray shows a patient with Legionnaires' disease. (Betty Partin, CDC)
This x-ray shows a patient with Legionnaires' disease. (Betty Partin, CDC)

The Florida Department of Health is investigating two gyms in the Orlando area for a possible outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

Four people have caught the bacterial lung infection in Orange County. When epidemiologists started investigating the four cases, they found two locations in common among the sick: An L.A. Fitness in MetroWest and an L.A. Fitness in South Orlando.

The spa and shower areas at both places had favorable conditions for the Legionella bacteria, and test samples have been sent out. Now, the gyms must hyper-chlorinate their water and install filters in the showers before those areas can open back up.

“This is a serious illness, it’s a serious form of pneumonia, what they’re finding is they have the fever, the cough, shortness of breath or chills and aches," said Kent Donahue, spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County. “They need to do hyper-chlorination of the spas, and the spa is closed until that occurs, and they need to close off the showers and install point-of-use filters. Until that is done, the showers are off limits.”

The affected gyms are at Kirkman Road and Conroy Road in the MetroWest area, and on Orange Blossom Trail near State Road 417 in the Hunter's Creek area.

LA Fitness aid they will continue to conduct testing and work under the guidance of the health department, saying they've been very helpful.  The company said it's concerned for the health and well-being of those who are sick, and wishes them a speedy recovery.

"It has not been conclusively shown at this point that the exposure to the disease took place at any of our facilities; however, DOH-Orange has recommended we conduct testing and take certain measures to remediate the facilities," said Jill Greuling, executive vice president of operations for Fitness International. "Also, out of extreme caution, we separately enlisted the services of Nalco Company LLC, which provides expertise in water treatment and assistance in carrying out the recommendations of the DOH, which is currently underway."

There have been 17 cases of Legionnaires' disease in Orange County this year so far, and 144 cases statewide. It is most commonly caught from health care facilities, and nationwide, about 10 percent of those infected die.

In April, an Ocoee LA Fitness was tested for a Legionnaire's outbreak, but the tests were ultimately negative.