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GARDEN CITY, Idaho — As a loyal Crunch Fitness member since 2017, David Porter never expected to spend eight days in the Saint Alphonsus Intensive Care Unit with Legionnaries’ disease.
“I didn’t know if I was going to live,” Porter said.
Porter was not the only one to contract the disease. Central District Health confirmed three cases, which were all reported in June.
Curtis Loveless, community and environmental health division administrator, said they traced the cases back to the Garden City Crunch Fitness on Lakeharbor Lane.
Experts were mostly concerned about the area around the hot tub since Legionnaire’s’ disease is caused by Legionella bacteria, he said.
“It is a bacteria that will live in freshwater, typically water that is warmer in temperature,” Loveless said. “It will often become aerosolized and inhaled by humans and then get into the lungs and cause symptoms similar to that of pneumonia.”
The week before he got sick, Porter said he used the spa on several different days. His first symptoms began on May 30. What started out as a cough quickly turned into a fever and breathing problems.
After spending a day in the ICU, a nurse diagnosed him with Legionnaires’ disease. Porter said he spent most of his time on oxygen.
“By that time, I was hallucinating because it blocks oxygen to your brain,” Porter said.
Loveless said CDH collected samples from the aquatic area after the second case was reported on June 7. All of the samples came back negative.
“The hot tub only was tested because it is the only common link between all three patients,” Loveless said.
Because of the results, Loveless said CDH does not believe there is a current public health threat to the community or Crunch Fitness gym members.
He said the issue was resolved quickly and that the gym closed the spa area down temporarily to fix anything problematic.
“No one should have any concern with continuing to use those facilities,” Loveless said.
Aside from that, he does not know what other actions Crunch Fitness staff took. Any future mitigation efforts are up to the gym since CDH only regulates public pools.
He recommended all businesses with aquatic areas adhere to the Model Aquatic Health Code. Loveless also encourages people to be on the lookout for clean, safe and healthy facilities.
Loveless said CDH helped Crunch Fitness draft a letter to its members about the outbreak. It is unclear whether that letter was ever sent out.
KTVB emailed Crunch Fitness and went to the gym. An employee said they had no comment and that they forwarded the email to corporate.
Even though Porter has been out of the hospital for about a month, he said breathing is still somewhat difficult. He is also concerned about all the medical bills.
The eight-day hospital stay added up to nearly $90,000, Porter said. He plans on taking legal action against Crunch Fitness.
“They need to be held accountable,” Porter said. “There’s a health crisis going on due to water supplies or people neglecting to maintain water supplies.”
Loveless said Legionella outbreaks are very rare, and he is unaware of any other recent outbreaks in Idaho.
The investigation is closed, and he said there have been no other cases reported.
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