HOT SPRINGS – The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has received environmental test results showing the presence of Legionella bacteria in one untreated water source, which is separate from the drinking water system, within the Quapaw Baths & Spa in Hot Springs. Legionella bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease.
A water sample taken from a source within the spa with untreated water contained the Legionella bacteria. The ADH is working closely with Hot Springs National Park to ensure that the presence of the bacteria within these areas is fully and immediately addressed. Further testing is being done to determine more about this possible exposure. The thermal water available through outdoor fountains for the public to drink is safe to use.
People can catch the Legionella bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in aerosolized droplets of water that contain the bacteria. Most people exposed to Legionella will not get sick. However, in some people it can cause severe illness, including pneumonia. Legionnaires’ disease can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease usually begin 2-14 days after exposure and can include cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headaches, and fever. Additional symptoms may be present, such as headache, confusion, nausea, or diarrhea. People who are at increased risk of getting sick include people 50 years of age or older, smokers, and those with chronic lung disease, weakened immune systems, or underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure.
If you have visited this location and developed any symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease or have experienced these symptoms within the last 30 days, you should see your doctor. Please let your doctor know so that he/she can test you for Legionnaires’ disease. Ask your doctor to test you with both a urine test and a respiratory culture. If you are diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, please report it to the ADH as soon as possible. If you have questions, please call the ADH at 501-537-8969.
The ADH is working in close collaboration with the National Park Service Office of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect the health of those who visit the park. You can learn more about Legionnaires’ disease at https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html.