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Christmas Mountain tests positive for Legionnella bacteria

WISCONSIN DELLS (WKOW) — Christmas Mountain, a popular resort near Wisconsin Dells, has tested positive for Legionnella bacteria in some areas of its facility.

The bacteria was found in parts of the water system, Sauk County Health Department Director Tara Hayes said Monday.

A spokesperson for Bluegreen Communications, the owner of the resort, said they are working closely with the Sauk County Health Department and “implemented a recommended risk reduction measure in addition to ongoing water management and remediation.” The spokesperson said all accommodations at Christmas Mountain are now equipped with “point of use” filters, which effectively eliminate 99 percent of exposure to the bacteria.

The resort also has to notify all guests about the bacteria. The Bluegreen spokesperson said they have also proactively informed all guests who have reservations at the property.

Christmas Mountain is working to find the source of the bacteria, Hayes said.

The Sauk County Health Department said those who are 50 and older, who smoke, have a chronic illness or a weakened immune system may be at risk of contracting the bacteria. Most healthy people are not.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include fever, muscle aches, headache, cough and fatigue. The condition resembles severe pneumonia, Hayes said.

The investigation is ongoing, according to Hayes.

Since Legionnaires’ is a reportable disease, the Sauk County Health Department was notified of a patient who contracted it in November of 2017, Hayes said. The health department narrowed down the location as Christmas Mountain because the patient had recently visited.

Bacteria found at the resort after the November report was treated, according to Hayes.

Then in October of 2018, another individual, who had also been to Christmas Mountain, reported getting sick with Legionnaires’, according to Hayes.

Sauk County mandated regular testing for the bacteria after the October incident. The testing is still ongoing at the resort, but some areas have come back positive for Legionella.

The health department classifies an outbreak as two or more people diagnosed with Legionnaires’ within a year at the same location, Hayes said.

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