Due to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Island Walk gated community at the West Villages development in North Port last Friday, the Sarasota County Health Department will be testing the pool as well as the spa area of the facilities. The environmental health director for the Sarasota County Health Department Tom Higginbotham said the test kits had arrived on Tuesday and that the water from the hot tub along with both pools would be tested.
Mr. Higginbotham also mentioned that the health department’s investigation should take around two days and that while the spa and two pools are the focus of the investigation, the testing may end up being expanded over to the community’s irrigation system since the system derives its water from untreated lakes.
The first case of Legionnaires’ disease to be diagnosed at Island Walk was by Dr. Ahmed Farooq, an infectious disease physician who works at the Venice Regional Bayfront Health. Dr. Ahmed Farooq called the health department after this encounter which allowed both Dr. Farooq and the health department to eventually determine that the Island Walk hot tub was the likely source, especially after he diagnosed a second case stemming from the hot tub.
A spokeswoman for the Sarasota Memorial Hospital said that three cases of Legionnaires’ disease were diagnosed at the hospital last weekend though could provide little additional information. A spokeswoman for DiVosta Homes, Macey Kessler, wrote in an email that they, “were alerted to the issue at approximately at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 23rd. The pool and spa were closed within 30 minutes of being contacted, and residents were notified.”
She continued by stating that “(T)he facilities will remain closed pending further testing,” and that they “are working with the Sarasota Department of Health to get this issue resolved. Our first priority is the safety of our residents.” The Sarasota Department of Health visits every public pool and spa in the county at least four times a year, with two of those visits being state inspections, whereby a variety of contaminants are tested for including e coli bacteria and enteric.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.