Legionella pneumophila CDC Public Health Image Library

Legionella bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires’ Disease, a serious form of pneumonia, has been discovered in an untreated water source at the Quapaw Baths & Spa in Hot Springs, the Arkansas Department of Health has announced. The water is separate from the drinking water.

Persons who have visited the baths and have developed symptoms, which include cough, shortness of breath, headaches and fever, should see their doctor. Most people exposed to legionella will not get sick; those with a higher risk of infection include people 50 or older, smokers, chronic lung disease and or other underlying illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the bacteria can cause a less serious illness called Pontiac fever.

Tests for Legionella require both urine and respiratory cultures. Persons testing positive should report that result to the ADH.

The ADH is doing further testing of the water source and working with Hot Springs National Park to address the problem. The agency says the thermal water in the outdoor fountains is safe to drink.

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