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updated: 8/3/2013 3:56 PM

Five dead after Legionnaires' outbreak at Ohio retirement center

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Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Health officials say Ohio's largest outbreak of Legionnaires' disease has killed five people and sickened 39 others at a retirement community since July.

The state Health Department says the outbreak at Wesley Ridge Retirement Community in Reynoldsburg in central Ohio has been linked to bacteria in an air conditioning cooling tower and several water sources.

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Victims range in age from 63 to 99. About 200 people live at the center.

Legionnaires' disease isn't contagious. The rare form of pneumonia is contracted when people breathe in tiny droplets of contaminated water.

The retirement community has taken steps to clean the water by hyper-chlorinating and superheating it. The center is also installing filters on shower heads and advising residents not to drink the water until testing is completed.

Health officials believe those steps have prevented any new infections.

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