Pennsylvania - Legionella Prevention and Costs of Legionnaires Outbreaks

Historical Headlines Related to Legionella

February 2, 2024

A former Lancaster County prison inmate tested positive for legionnaires disease. The prison installed monochloramine generators, which pump a disinfectant into the water to kill the Legionella bacteria. Two generators were installed while flushing and testing the water was done the whole time. “Approximately 150 tests have been completed. We did testing as recent as yesterday,” the warden said. ” A lot of the issues have been where most of the inmates are housed. The issues are mostly in our newer part of our jail which are the high rises that are behind the castle as you are looking at it from the front.” (Source)

December 27, 2023

Lancaster County Prison is regularly monitoring its water for the presence of Legionella bacteria. The board of commissioners approved a disinfection system that will likely serve the facility until a planned new prison is built and opened in a few years. The system is common to institutions such as hospitals, which are especially susceptible to Legionella outbreaks. (Source)

December 21, 2023

Propsed Pennsylvania legislation would require both drinking water providers and owners of buildings with complex water systems serving the public to have a plan for testing for, and mitigating, Legionella bacteria. The main pushback to this proposed legislation, Senate Bill 571, appears to be a concern that fixing a Legionella issue can be expensive. But disinfection with chlorine tablets and hot running water will usually kill Legionella and reduce its growth. If it is found in a showerhead or water dispenser, point-of-use filters can be installed. Google the average legal settlement for Legionnaires’ disease and you’ll get a range of $225,000 to $5.2 million. Chlorine is much cheaper. (Source)

November 29, 2023

Water was flowing again at Lancaster County Prison after most of the inmate population spent the better part of a day without the ability to use a sink, flush a toilet or take a shower. The director of the county general services department said the building’s water system went offline to allow crews to work on eliminating “dead ends” in the building’s plumbing. Water can remain stagnant in “dead end”, making them a potential source of Legionella bacteria. (Source)

October 25, 2023

After elevated levels of legionella bacteria, Lock Haven City Hall was closed. Per officials, testing of the HVAC water cooling tower is part of the implementation of a more stringent and regular preventative maintenance schedule. Officials said no one is symptomatic for pneumonia or the disease. About one in 10 people die after getting sick with Legionnaires' disease. (Source)

October 19, 2023

The Ohio state’s Department of Health officially confirmed five cases of Legionnaires disease in the county, raising concerns over the source of the disease. Adena Health System’s main campus in Chillicothe came under scrutiny following positive cases of Legionnaires disease. Nine individuals reported symptoms, and one fatality was linked to the disease. The hospital faced accusations from patients who claimed their illness was connected to Adena, despite the hospital denying any link to the facility.(Source

September 21, 2023

According to a CDC report, two organ recipients contracted Legionnaires' disease after receiving organs from a single donor who died drowning in a fresh body of water. The incident raises concerns and new considerations to take into account for clinicians. Since Legionella bacteria naturally live in freshwater, initially the water at the hospital was evaluated as a possible source of infection, but was ultimately determined not to be. "Although laboratory testing did not confirm the source of recipient infections, available data suggest that the most likely source was the donor lungs," the CDC report reads.


September 21, 2023

Lock Haven City Hall in Pennsylvania is free of legionella bacteria according to test results. “The City of Lock Haven has received the results of the first of a series of tests required to establish that City Hall is free of legionella bacteria and safe for employees to return to work at the location,” a release from the city’s mayor said. Lock Haven City Hall closed due to positive tests of Legionella bacteria in its HVAC system. Following the discovery, the system was disinfected and samples retaken from the HVAC along with other areas of the building.


September 7, 2023

A short-term retirement community resident tested positive at a local hospital for the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease. The retirement community hired a water management company to conduct extensive tests of the water system in the affected building. In the meantime, the retirement community is providing bottled water to residents. Residents in that building have been advised not to drink tap water or use it to make ice or brush teeth. They also can’t shower, but specialized filters are being installed in two rooms to safely provide resident showers. (Source)

May 24, 2023

A Pennsylvania state prison inmate near State College tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, which was confirmed by the state Department of Corrections. As a result, showers and water fountains were shut off in the affected unit at the State Correctional Institution and inmates were provided bottled water while testing occurred. Water systems are tested regularly at the state prison and the most recent tests have not shown the presence of Legionella. (Source)

December 29, 2022

New Jersey state health authorities reported a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease in four Pennsauken residents. Health officials are trying to determine how and where the people got infected so they can prevent further transmission. One person is hospitalized, while the other three are recovering at home. The first case was confirmed in October and all four residents live less than a mile away from one another, but did not report being at the same places before becoming sick. (Source)

October 7, 2022

Reports were found to be untrue of Legionnaires' disease being detected in the water supply in the Abingtons area according to Pennsylvania American Water. The false reports were traced to a screenshot of an unfounded text message that warned people not to drink the water. "Out of an abundance of caution, we have confirmed that the water we treat and deliver to the community has been disinfected to meet all federal and state standards for public health," the utility said in a statement. (Source)

October 7, 2022

Five cases of Legionnaires' disease were documented at Commonwealth Health System hospitals in Scranton and reported to the state Department of Health this month, the health system reported. The system alerted its clinical staff after noticing a recent increase in cases of Legionella pneumonia present at admission at Regional Hospital of Scranton and Moses Taylor Hospital. The Department of Health was treating the cases as a "community-acquired" outbreak, meaning the infection arose in the general population and not in a hospital, nursing home or similar setting. (Source)

June 17, 2022

There is a case of Legionnaires’ disease in Luzerne County. It’s a severe form of pneumonia attacking the lungs and for one NEPA man, it’s meant a frightening week in the ICU and he may never be the same. The Health Department is still investigating where Louis came into contact with the bacteria. Louis says he delivered to warehouses in Hanover Industrial Park, Wilkes-Barre and a couple in Pittston. (Source)


Legislators have introduced a measure that would codify the CDC-supported seven-step industry standard (ASHRAE-188) to identify where there is risk of bacterial growth in water systems and provide simple actions that building owners can take to mitigate or reduce that risk by targeting Legionella pneumophila. (Source)


In the fall of 2020, Legionella was found in water at 4 of 6 Fox Chapel schools. District officials noted that the source was was the result of buildings being closed for longer than usual.

Reported Settlements and Jury Awards

Given the incidence of legionella in Pennsylvania, and its associated harm, personal injury claims and litigation are also becoming more frequent. Reported settlements and jury awards are unavailable at this time.

State Cap on Jury Awards

Pennsylvania does not have a cap on the award amounts allowable by law. In addition, public health notices and negative media attention can also lead to business interruption and reputation damage.

Groundwater Temperature Risk Level – Medium

Overall Liabliity and Risk for Pennsylvania – High

No, ASHRAE 188 is not part of the state code

Legionella and Water Management Plan Assistance

Need help? For Legionella consulting and services, Water Management Plans, Legionella Control Systems, and Legionella testing please contact us at Legionella Control Systems at 888-416-8626 or

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