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The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced today that the agency is actively investigating a cluster of six Legionella cases in the greater Bangor area. Here is what we currently know about this potential Bangor Maine Legionnaires Outbreak:
According to the press release,
“Maine CDC is actively investigating to try to identify a common exposure among the cases or determine whether they are coincidental. Health care providers have diagnosed approximately one new case each month since November 2018. All the individuals were hospitalized and one person with the illness died, though Maine CDC has not established the bacteria as the cause of death. Over the last five years, Penobscot County has averaged three Legionella cases per year.
Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person to person. Maine CDC is announcing this investigation to make the public aware, but residents in the area do not need to take any specific actions in response. Maine CDC has alerted area health care providers so they can consider testing for the illness, which could lead to the identification of additional cases. All cases must be reported to Maine CDC.”
Last year, there were 33 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Maine.
The CDC reports that the majority of those afflicted with Legionnaires’ disease will require hospitalization. And 1 out of 10 people who get Legionnaires’ disease will die, a staggering statistic from a lesser known disease. There is no vaccine.
Legionella bacteria live in freshwater. It grows and thrives man-made water sources, like fountains, cooling towers, air conditioners, hot tubs, sprinklers, showers, faucets, etc. If these sources are not properly maintained and sanitized, Legionella can become a problem and lead to illness – Legionnaires’ disease. The small droplets of contaminated water are released into the air (in vapor form) and are breathed in by people.
The Maine CDC notes in its release that there are several types of people who may be at higher risk of Legionnaires’ disease. “Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick. Those at increased risk of getting sick are people aged 50 years and older; current or former smokers; people with a chronic lung disease, weak immune systems, or cancer; and people with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure.”
The symptoms are relatively common and flu-like in nature. One may have a cough, shortness of breath, a headache, muscle aches, and a fever. In some instances, the fever can reach up to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. More severe cases develop into a serious form of pneumonia. This is especially true for those with respiratory issues, smokers (present and former), those who are immunocompromised, or the elderly.
The diagnosis of Legionnaires’ disease is also difficult, as it mirrors pneumonia. Usually a physician will order an xray, a urine antigen test, or examine the phlegm of an infected person for the presence of Legionella bacteria. As Legionella bacteria multiply within human cells, strong antibiotics are used to quell the infection.
The Maine CDC has issued general recommendations when it comes to Legionnaires’ disease. According to their website:
“It is important to report diagnosed cases of Legionnaires’ Disease as its identification implies the presence of an environmental source to which other susceptible individuals are likely to be exposed. Legionella testing should be performed for those who have traveled in the 2 weeks before onset of symptoms. All cases of Legionellosis should be reported to Maine CDC 1-800-821-5921.”
In general, someone presenting to the doctor with symptoms of both pneumonia and gastrointestinal issues should be tested for legionella. This is especially true if the patient also has mental changes, like confusion. Health officials advise you seek medical attention immediately.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends doctors test the sick person for Legionnaires’ disease if the patient is in Intensive Care and has severe pneumonia or has pneumonia and a weakened immune system. The patient should be tested for Legionnaires’ disease even if they have been treated with antibiotics, as the bacteria can stay in the body for some time.
The Lange Law Firm
Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water. When corporations cause food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable. The Lange Law Firm, PLLC is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.
If you were infected with Legionnaires disease after visiting or living in Bangor, Maine, and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help. Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663, or send us an e-mail here.
By: Candess Zona-Mendola (Editor – Non-Lawyer)