Man Blames Legionnaires’ Outbreak On Unsanitary Conditions

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(Memphis) A former member of 24 Hour Fitness says he is not surprised there was as Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Ridgeway location. He says he complained about unsanitary conditions there months ago. He says he even contacted the Health Department.

“I told them I don't want to be a member here,” said Torrey Schoaff. “It is just disgusting.”

Harsh words for a gym that considers itself a health club. But Schoaff says he cancelled his membership at 24 Hour Fitness last year because of health concerns.

“I noticed that people were sitting in the pool, in the hot tub with their gym shorts on," he said.

Then, just this week, the health department reported at least three people have come down with Legionnaires’ disease from visiting that same club.

“I thought ‘I cannot believe that the same facility that we used to go to is having this bacteria problem,'" Schoaff said.

The health department says the bacteria was picked up from the spa and steam room, places that Shoaff says concerned him.

“He got got into the hot tub with his work shorts and still sweat coming off of him," Schoaff said.

While some are blaming the Legionnaires' outbreak on unclean conditions at the gym, doctors say the Legionella bacteria can pop up in the cleanest of places.

“There are plenty of places that don't practice cleanliness. They don't have Legionella outbreaks,” said Dr. Stephen Threlkaeld of Baptist Hospital.

Dr.  Threlkaeld says while bacteria like Legionella thrive in warm places like hot tubs, the germ probably got there from the water supply and not an unclean person.

“Legionella is a germ that lives in the environment naturally," the doctor said. "Just in some cases, it sets up shop in larger numbers in a public setting.”

Torrey adds that a clean facility can't hurt, saying, “You have to take extra special care.”

24 Hour Fitness says it does that, telling News Channel 3 that health and safety of their members are of the utmost importance.

24 Hour Fitness says its rules prohibit people from going in the pool area with "cut offs."

As for the Legionnaires' outbreak, it says its facilities are undergoing comprehensive inspection and cleaning and the spa area will remain closed until the work is complete.

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