Water restrictions lifted on Catonsville retirement campus

by Jon Bleiweis, originally posted on December 20, 2016


Restrictions on water use at two buildings in the Charlestown retirement community in Catonsville were lifted Tuesday after a new round of tests showed the water was safe and meets state standards.

The restrictions were imposed earlier this month after a resident in the newly opened Caton Woods assisted living building was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease — a potentially deadly respiratory illness — and tests found low to “inconclusive” levels of the bacteria in water at the building and the adjacent Renaissance Gardens Terrace building.

Residents were given bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth and were encouraged to take baths rather than showers, and to fill their sinks slowly when washing dishes, to avoid spraying mist.

Water systems in both buildings were disinfected after the Legionnaires’ case was discovered and the county health department has ordered stepped-up monitoring.

No other cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported at the campus.

“I think the precautionary measures were a prudent step taken to ensure the welfare of everyone in the community,” said Dan Dunne, a spokesman for Erickson Living, the company that manages Charlestown.

The latest analysis, conducted by a third party certified laboratory, showed the water was negative for Legionnaires’ bacteria growth, Dunne said. He declined to name the laboratory.

Residents had been moving from Renaissance Gardens Terrace, a 29-year-old building, to Caton Woods, which opened last month, at the time of the Dec. 5 diagnosis. Move-ins were paused but resumed and completed after both buildings had restrictions in place.

There are 87 residents living at Caton Woods, a building designed for 116.

The resident has returned to Caton Woods and the resident’s health has been progressively better, Dunne said. It remains unknown how the resident contracted the disease.

“That’s sort of the question of the day,” he said. “While we have not confirmed Caton Woods was source of resident’s illness, we recognize, based on water test outcomes, exposure cannot be ruled out.”

The county health department has told Charlestown to conduct water testing at the two buildings every two weeks for the next three months, then monthly for three months.

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