Home Complications Legionnaire’s disease
Category:

Legionnaire’s disease

New York Legionnaires Outbreaks

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirmed another eight cases of Legionnaires’ disease from people living in the Lower Washington Heights district in Manhattan on Friday, October 5, 2018. Three people in the Bronx also have confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease. New York Legionnaires Outbreaks appear to be on the rise.

Washington Heights’ Second Outbreak

Authorities stated all eight people were hospitalized after coming down with Legionnaires’ disease symptoms within five days of each other. Seven people remain in the hospital and one person has been released.

Despite varying reports from numerous sources, the NYC health department stated in their press release on Friday, this is the second cluster of Legionnaires’ diseases in the Washington Heights area in recent months. Another similar Legionnaires’ cluster outbreak of the disease occurred earlier this year in July.

The NYC health department issued its first news release on July 11, 2018 which stated eight people had been hospitalized with the disease. In both, the July and October news releases, the NYC health department stated all individuals affected were between the ages of 40 to 80 years old and most were in their 50s.

Washington Heights is located in the northern portion of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The 2010 US Census data estimates over 150,000 citizens live in the area which borders – Harlem to the south, Inwood to the north, the Hudson River to the west, and the Harlem River to the east.

In August, a NYC health department news release reported one person had died as a result of Legionnaires’ disease.

The Health Department stated in the same August news release, the investigation of the Lower Washington Heights Legionnaires’ disease cluster was over. And at that time, no new cases had been reported in a previous three-week period.

The probable source of the Washington Heights cluster had been ascertained after a thorough epidemiologic investigation. Samples of area cooling towers and molecular examinations of Legionella bacteria from affected humans were matched.

The New York City health department’s public health laboratory epidemiologists paired the Legionella bacteria type found in the cooling tower at the Sugar Hill Project building with six affected patients from the Lower Washington Heights cluster.

The Sugar Hill Project building owners cooperated fully with the health department investigation. The building’s cooling tower was cleaned and sanitized on July 13 and the staff continues to work with health department investigators on long-term maintenance to meet the New York City’s cooling tower regulations.

The health department’s August report also reported 27 cases were associated with the Lower Washington Heights Legionnaires’ disease cluster. Twenty-five people were hospitalized, and two people were treated as outpatients. One person died because of the disease.

Currently health department officials are aggressively taking steps to ensure the safety of area residents.

First Deputy Director of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, said in the Department’s current news release, “We have ordered the Sugar Hill development, which operates the cooling tower identified as the source of the July cluster, to clean and disinfect again given its proximity to the new cases.”

“Although the risk is very low, we urge residents and people who work in the area to take precautions. Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious and can be treated with common antibiotics if caught early. And anyone with flu-like symptoms such as cough, fever or difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately.”

What Precautions Should Be Taken?

Symptoms can mimic pneumonia and even symptoms of influenzas, the flu. Anyone who develops a cough, has difficulty breathing, has a fever, suffers from muscle aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea should see a healthcare professional immediately.

People who are at higher risk include – individuals who are 50-years old and older, are cigarette smokers, have a chronic lung disease or have a compromised immune system.

How Do People Get Sick?

Dr. Barbot also reminded everyone again that Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious but spreads through breathing in affected fine, microscopic water droplets, usually in the form of a fine mist or vapor.

The Legionella bacteria survives and grows best in warm water. The bacteria can grow in cooling towers of air-conditioning systems, large plumbing systems, hot water tanks, showers, faucets, swimming pools, hot tubs, whirlpools, equipment used in physical therapy, misting machines, hand-help sprayers, water systems found in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and hotels.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of a lung infection that is treatable if diagnosed in its early stages. The CDC estimates Legionnaires’ disease affects over 25,000 people in the US each year.

But, only 5,000 cases are reported annually according to the CDC statistics because there are no specific symptoms. And possibly ten percent of affected people will die from the disease.

What Are The Facts About Legionnaires’ Disease in New York?

According to a report released by the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease, the CDC released data showing New York state reported 128 new cases of Legionnaire’s disease in the past few weeks.

The Alliance compared statistics showing 348 cases had been reported nationwide during the same time period. This information shows New Yorkers are contracting the disease at a record rate when compared to 2017’s cases.

Last year the CDC reported New York state recorded a total of 1,009 Legionnaire’s disease cases as compared to 2018 projections of around 1,180 cases.

Experts warn New York residents to request more government monitoring and treatment of suspect public water systems where the Legionella bacteria can easily grow.

The outbreaks of 2018 are concerning to current residents but manageable when compared to the outbreaks in 2016. Outbreaks from 2016 resulted in Legionnaires’ disease cluster outbreaks killing a recorded 12 people in the Bronx.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Cindy Lockstone, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 10, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Washington Heights’ Second Legionnaires Outbreak

Washington Heights is again gripped in a second Legionnaires outbreak over the course of a few months. 8 illnesses have been reported and all of them were hospitalized. However, one of them is already discharged. The infected individuals were between 40 to 80 years old. Most of the patients are over the age of 50. The illnesses were reported within the last week itself. Health department is now investigating this newly emerged Legionnaires outbreak in the area.

“The Health Department has identified a second cluster this year of Legionnaires disease in the lower Washington Heights area and we are taking aggressive steps to ensure the safety of residents”, said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, acting health department commissioner in a statement.

No additional details were provided about the outbreak apart from that there is an ongoing Legionnaires outbreak.

Legionnaires is spread by Legionella bacteria. The bacteria generally develops inside water systems when proper safety conditions are not maintained. Once they start growing, they can infect the individuals when they breathe in the mist from the contaminated water systems. The most common sources of infections are cooling towers, air conditioning units, hot tubs, whirlpools, decorative fountains, swimming pools etc.

After the recent outbreak, the health department has been quick this time around to investigate the issue. They have ordered sampling of 20 cooling towers within a mile radius. All the towers that will test positive for Legionella bacteria will be ordered to increase the levels of biocide.

“The important thing that I want to emphasize is, it gives us really an opportunity to reassure New Yorkers that even though there may be a close to an event, that doesn’t mean we don’t keep looking, right, and that’s how we found this so quickly and are taking measures to ensure that we get the message out, and then New Yorkers can seek treatment early”, Dr. Oxiris Barbot added.

The last outbreak – in July – was traced back to the cooling tower of the Sugar Hill Project – a high-rise building on St. Nicholas Avenue near West 155th Street. Officials informed that they have ordered the Sugar Hill Project to again clean and disinfect their systems once the news of illnesses came in. Most other Legionnaires outbreak in the New York city have also been traced back to the plumbing systems.

The Health Department further informed that they will hold a community meeting on Monday at The Jackie Robinson Convention Center at 85 Bradhurst Avenue at 6 PM so as to provide residents more information on the outbreak.

Summer Outbreak Details:

The outbreak caused by Sugar Hills Project cooling tower started in July 2018 and ended in August 2018. A total of 27 patients were affected by the outbreak. Most of them were above 50 as Legionnaires can easily cause illness in older individuals. 25 people were hospitalized and one death was reported due to the outbreak. The first notification came on July 11 when total outbreak count was 8. The Sugar Hill project cleaned and disinfected its tower on July 13. Since the incubation period of Legionnaires is long, the outbreak can last longer as the diseases continue to come in.

The outbreak spurred calls from local politicians for greater transparency and more severe punishments for defaulters. The current fine for those who fail to maintain safety precautions is $2000 and any successive violations can’t be fined more than $5000. For failed inspection of towers that might cause deadly Legionnaires outbreak, the fine is no more than $10,000.

Health Department Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement that “In 2015, we worked with the City Council to create the nation’s most comprehensive cooling tower registry and regulations. During the investigation, the registry helps the Health Department to quickly identify all cooling towers in the affected neighborhood, review their inspection record, obtain samples for rapid laboratory testing and conduct an immediate visual inspection of the tower”

Remember, not everyone who inhales the mist gets the disease. People who are more at risk are those who are older (above 50), who smoke, have a chronic lung disease or a weakened immune system. The city has an average of 200-500 cases each year due to Legionnaires.

 About Legionnaires:

Legionnaires disease is a severe form of pneumonia that cause lung inflammation. Legionella bacteria survive in soil and water but they rarely cause infection that way. The bacteria multiply in water systems in large buildings like hotel, hospitals etc. and then spread through hot tubs, air conditioner, swimming pools etc. You won’t get infected if you drink the contaminated water or if you are in contact with someone who has the disease. Legionnaires is not contagious.

Symptoms of Legionnaires includes bad cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, headache, chills and high fever. Most of the people who have Legionnaires will get hospitalized. As soon as you experience the symptoms, contact your GP immediately. Around 1 in 10 people who contract the bacteria die. People who are more at risk have high fatality rate and are at more risk of complications.

Incubation period of Legionella is 2-10 days. Diagnosis is done through a series of tests like CT scan, blood tests, chests X-ray, etc. Treatment generally involves antibiotics given directly through the vein and oxygen mask / machine to help you breathe.  Complications like respiratory failure, septic shock and acute kidney failure can occur.

The only way to prevent Legionnaires is to ensure that owner of commercial premises maintain proper safety of their water systems. They hold regular inspections and regular cleaning of the systems and are aware of the law that governs Legionnaires.

Our Lawyers Can Help You:

Several residents in the Washington Heights have retained The Lange Law Firm, PLLC in the Legionnaires outbreak.

Our lawyer, Jory Lange, is one of the nation’s leading Legionnaires disease lawyers and has helped families all across the nation. If you have developed Legionnaires disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating the matter and offering free legal consultations.

Get in touch with us by giving a call on 833.330.3663 or complete the form here.

By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 10, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
DC Legionnaires Outbreak at Retirement Home

Life in Washington DC can be enthralling given the vast range of employment opportunities and countless leisure activities on offer. Home to the best museums in the nation, the list is endless for reasons to move to the city. People that have chosen Washington DC for retirement are now facing up to a health crisis. The nation’s capital is struggling with an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease that is doing considerable damage at a Northwest Washington DC retirement community. The DC Department of Health announced a DC Legionnaires Outbreak to the public with the Ingleside at Rock Creek Retirement Community being the affected site of the outbreak. Two people have been diagnosed with the illness so far and the Department of Health is working tirelessly to manage the outbreak and do their best to avoid further infections. Extra caution is being advised by authorities as residents are still at risk.

Legionnaires Outbreak

Legionnaires’ illness is relatively unknown in the U.S. Unfortunately, it is gaining more media attention and time in the news given the rise in cases recently. The facts behind the outbreak of legionnaires at Ingleside are still being established by the authorities. There are two known cases of legionnaires illness and DC health officials are currently on the ground collaborating with stakeholders to effectively bring this perilous situation under control. Stakeholders include DC Water and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC states that legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by a bacteria that can thrive in buildings with complex water systems like hotels and long-term care facilities. Preliminary measures imposed include full water restrictions for Ingleside until filters are changed and installed on sick faucets and showers. These precautionary measures are being steadfastly implemented to manage the spread of bacteria through water. This step is crucial to ensure that more people do not become infected. Further, residents of three buildings in Ingleside have been instructed to take necessary precautions when using the water supplied. The executive director at Ingleside released the following statement; “Currently, Ingleside is under a water restriction as there are two confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease. We truly care about the health and well-being of our residents and have taken steps to ensure that preventive measures are in place. We are working with DC Water and the DC Department of Health to investigate the cause.

Infected Water

The outbreak at Ingleside shows the potential for water facilities to become infected thus spreading legionnaires’ illness. Early investigations from DC Water reveal that the city water supply is safe. A spokesman from DC Water states that “we can assure District residents that this issue is isolated to the facility and that the drinking water DC Water distributes to the general population is safe“. DC Waters expertise in water management and keeping the residents of Washington DC safe are being tested by this outbreak as water supply samples have been taken from Ingleside. Doctor Sasha McGee, senior infections disease epidemiologist at DC Health reveals that “it has to be water that’s a mist of a vapor so you actually inhale it. Filters are going to be installed in shower and sink units so they can safely use the water. Until those are installed there are water restrictions so they aren’t using the water and being potentially exposed to the mist that they can breathe in and become sick”. Tests on the water have been conducted and stakeholders are patiently waiting for the results. These results will determine the scale of the outbreak and the potential for further infections.

Ingleside is a luxury retirement home targeting the high-end parts of society. An ethos of “engaged living” allows guests to enjoy their final years and relax in comfort. The website of Ingleside proudly boasts that “the community includes retirees from the Foreign Service and the Department of State, former educators from the highest levels of academia, writers and musicians and successful entrepreneurs, all with a common view of elegant living in retirement”. The elderly at Ingleside are particularly vulnerable to infection given their old age. With immune systems weakened, the defenses to fight the illness are limited. Consequently, the highest standards of safety must be maintained in the water facilities at the retirement home. A duty of care towards guests must be upheld at all times thus requiring constant cleaning and regular maintenance of water systems. Executive Director of Ingleside Frank Beech describes that; “Ingleside continues to provide ample supplies of water to all residents and is installing water filtration units in every resident apartment. DC Health has authorized with the CDC that Ingleside at Rock Creek residents can use their dishwashers, washers and dryers”.

Water is fundamental to the legionnaires outbreak at Ingleside given that the illness is spread through contaminated water. People can become infected through breathing in a mist or vapor containing legionella bacteria. For example, inhaling infected hot water vapor from a shower or sink are common causes of legionnaires. This bacteria can be found in building water systems with bacteria especially thriving from hot water. Symptoms of the illness include headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, shortness of breath and fever. Most healthy people do not become ill after becoming exposed. DC Health officials state that infection is almost never transmitted on a person-to-person basis. Further, not everyone who is exposed to the bacteria gets sick. Vulnerable people include elderly, smokers and people with weakened immune systems. These people are at risk to infection given the weakness of the body to fight back. Symptoms of infection usually occur two days after infection with the legionnaires infection treated by health professionals with antibiotics. The disease can be deadly and kills around 1 in 10 patients infected. Around 50 people were infected with legionnaires’ disease in 2017 in the DC area. Already this year, there have been 40 cases in the district.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer. Our firm already represents several families in the first Washington Heights outbreak.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Billy Rayfield, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 8, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Sugar Hill Legionnaires Disease Outbreak

The New York Health Department is presently investigating a Sugar Hill Legionnaires disease outbreak. Eight people have fallen ill over the course of five days. All eight of the victims who have been registered so far have been sent to the hospital. None have died as of the time of this writing.

The Second Outbreak

This is the second cluster of Legionnaire’s cases to be registered in Washington Heights this year. In July of this year, residents of Washington Heights and Hamilton Heights in New York fell ill with the bacterial disease. The first case of Legionnaires was registered on the 11th of July; 27 in total ended up getting sick. One person perished.

The source of that first outbreak was identified by the health department as a cooling tower in Sugar Hill Project in Harlem. Samples of bacteria taken from six of the victims had the same genetic fingerprint as Legionella bacteria taken from that cooling tower, indicating that it may have been the source of the outbreak.

The health department ordered the Sugar Hill Project to clean and disinfect the cleaning tower that was identified as the source of the original outbreak. As of this time, officials aren’t sure if the same cooling tower is the source of this second outbreak as well. Although it’s already been cleaned and disinfected once, they’ve ordered building management to do the same again out of an abundance of caution; in the geographical sense, the latest cluster of cases is in nearly the exact same place as the July cluster, so there’s a chance that the same cooling tower is responsible.

So far, investigators haven’t been able to make a determination as to the source of the latest outbreak. According to a press release from the health department, they’re currently sampling bacteria from 20 cooling towers within a mile-wide radius of the cluster of cases. Any towers that test positive for Legionella bacteria will be required to increase biocide. That’s a fancy word for chemicals like chlorine that have antibacterial qualities and can be used to sanitize a water system that’s suspected as a source of the bacteria.

The diagnosed individuals in this current outbreak range in age from 40 to 80, with the majority over the age of fifty, according to a press release put out by the health department. Anyone who lives in the area and is experiencing flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, or difficulty breathing is encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Some groups are at higher risk to contract Legionnaires than others. Individuals who are older than fifty, who smoke cigarettes, who have chronic lung disease or who are immunocompromised are encouraged to keep a close eye on their health and to seek medical attention immediately if they experience the symptoms described in the preceding paragraph.

Legionnaires disease isn’t communicable from person to person. Instead, it spreads through sources of fresh water: air conditioning, cooling towers, hot tubs, and hot water tanks have all been cited as reservoirs of Legionella in the past. These sources are preferred by the bacteria because their ideal temperature range for water is quite high. They thrive in water that’s heated to 95 degrees fahrenheit. The bacteria enter the body while riding in tiny drops of water that have been aerosolized; that is, they’re small enough to float suspended on the air.

There is no vaccine for Legionnaires. The only effective way to prevent the growth and transmission of the bacteria is to maintain high standards of hygiene for water systems. Once someone has developed the infection, it can be treated with antibiotics.

It’s technically a form of pneumonia, and many of the symptoms are the same as other types of pneumonia; coughing, shortness of breath, chest pains, and fever are all characteristic of the disease. About half of Legionnaires patients develop gastrointestinal symptoms as well; these can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Many also exhibit neurological symptoms, including confusion and problems with cognition.

Legionnaires is a serious and deadly condition; most of those who develop it need to be hospitalized. About one in ten who fall ill with the condition end up dying from it. The best hope for surviving a case of Legionnaires is to detect the disease early and start treatment with antibiotics to contain the infection as soon as possible.

History Lesson

This isn’t the first time that the city of New York has grappled with this disease. An outbreak in 2015 sickened 120 people and killed 12, according to the New York Times. An average year sees between 200 and 500 New Yorkers fall ill with the bacteria.

Legionnaires and legionella pneumophila, the bacteria that causes it, are so called because of an outbreak that happened in Philadelphia in the summer of 1976. 2,000 members of the veterans organization the American Legion were attending a convention to celebrate America’s bicentennial at the Bellevue-Stratford hotel in Philadelphia.

Shortly after the end of the convention, the first legionnaire died. He was followed swiftly by more than two dozen of his comrades. Some 182 members of the American Legion fell ill; 29 died.

The Centers for Disease Control saw reason to investigate. They identified a new strain of bacteria, which they named legionella pneumophila in honor of the American Legion members who had been affected by the outbreak. The bacteria were eventually found to have been breeding in the cooling tower for the hotel’s air conditioning system. Subsequent investigation revealed that legionella had been responsible for several other outbreaks in the past, both at the Bellevue-Stratford and elsewhere.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer. Our firm already represents several families in the first Washington Heights outbreak.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Sean McNulty, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 8, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Second Washington Heights Legionnaires Disease Outbreak

We’ve seen a lot of cases of Legionnaires’ disease this year and are representing several families and individuals who have fallen ill with Legionnaires disease. Recent events in Washington Heights, New York, are proving that the legionella bacteria is not something to dismiss! Health officials are currently investigated the second outbreak of Legionnaires disease that Washington Heights has seen since July of this year! Here is what you need to know about the second Washington Heights Legionnaires Disease Outbreak .

Second Outbreak Details

The Health Department is currently investigating a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease in Washington Heights where eight people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ within a brief five day period. Every one of these patients have been hospitalized due to the illness, with one discharged already. As is common with Legionnaires’ disease, the patients are all middle-aged to elderly with ages ranging from 40 to 80 years old. The majority of the patients, however, were over the age of 50.

Due to the severity of an outbreak earlier this summer, caused by the same disease, the Health Department responded immediately. According to Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the Acting Health Department Commissioner, “The Health Department has identified a second cluster this season of Legionnaires disease in the Lower Washington Heights area and we are taking aggressive steps to ensure the safety of residents.”

Thankfully, there have been no deaths associated with this cluster of Legionnaires disease and the Health Department has been successful in finding a source of the disease. The Health Department dutifully sampled 20 cooling towers within a one mile radius of the reported illnesses, many of which tested positive. Legionella bacteria was quickly discovered in a cooling tower that was connected to commercial air conditioning units, meaning that the bacteria easily made its way through the AC and was later inhaled by the sick patients. In a recent press release, the city’s Department of Health said, that these “cooling towers that test positive for legionella will immediately be ordered to increase biocide.”

Importantly, officials have made it clear that legionella bacteria was not found in the water supply itself, making the water completely safe to drink. According to ABC news, “The Health Department will be holding a community meeting on Monday, October 8th at the Jackie Robinson Recreation Center at 85 Bradhurst Ave. at 6 p.m.”

July Outbreak Details

Back in July, 27 people ended up sick with Legionnaires’ disease. The summer outbreak claimed one life and left many in the hospital. Many who fell ill, including the individual who died, were older than 50 years old. This outbreak lead to local politicians demanding greater transparency and a more severe punishment for buildings with cooling towers that fail inspection. The current fine for the first violation is $2,000, and any finds for subsequent safety violations are not allowed to exceed $5,000. For a building with a failed inspection on their towers that somehow leads to even a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, the fine does not surpass $10,000.

A New York City councilman and New York state senator believe these numbers aren’t properly protecting their citizens. They said back in July that the Department of Buildings should be providing their public with more information about the cooling towers, especially those that get the blame for spreading legionella bacteria and causing Legionnaires’ disease.

It’s understood that cooling towers release some kind of vapor, and often this vapor is contaminated with toxins or bacteria, commonly the legionella bacteria that causes Legionnaires. Since this is such a common occurrence, these towers are supposed to be inspected every year, but according to City Councilman, Ydanis Rodriguez, he cannot obtain any data whatsoever about inspections completed on the towers, or violations for the towers in Washington Heights and Lower Hamilton Heights.

Rodriguez said, “That information had to be collected, because of the open data system that we follow in our city. However, it is not easy to navigate and identify this information.” Rodriguez and State Senator Marisol Alcantara, who apparently lives within the contaminated area, have both called the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the hopes that they will release the information about the cooling towers for the public to better understand the situation.

The outbreak in July killed a person, to which a Washington Heights resident responded, “Very sad, just devastating. I feel very bad for the person. It just brings you aware of something you never really thought too much about in your life.” According to another resident, “They need to find out where it’s coming from so nobody else passes away.” Rodriguez responded by saying that he wanted information about the inspections as well as the fines to be available to the public. This was not the first time Legionnaires’ disease had plagued the city, as two years prior an outbreak spread in the Bronx that killed 12.

Whether or not Rodriguez or Alcantara’s efforts were successful or not, cooling towers apparently continue to sicken people with legionella. Health department officials said back in July that all the towers were inspected and contamination results were pending. “For now,” Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, said in July, “everything is safe in the neighborhood. Drinking water is safe. You should wash and bathe with that water.”

Conclusion

Legionnaires’ disease is a terrible lung infection, not altogether unlike pneumonia though usually far more serious, such that can result in death. New York Health Department officials are certainly working hard on identifying the cause of the current outbreak in order to end it as soon as possible, but is it possible that more could be done to prevent future outbreaks? Identifying legionella bacteria in water towers is one of the clearest signs that Legionnaires’ disease will spread, and since this bacteria is especially dangerous to a wide variety of U.S. citizens (such as the elderly, former smokers, and people with preexisting health conditions), perhaps cooling tower inspections should be taken more seriously.

If you or anyone you know are experiencing symptoms similar to Legionnaires’ disease, contact your doctor immediately. Early treatment is key in preventing a death and restoring health as quickly as possible.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer. Our firm already represents several families in the first Washington Heights outbreak.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Abigail Ryan, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 6, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Pinellas County Legionnaires Disease Outbreak

Another outbreak of Legionnaires disease, but this time it’s in Pinellas County, Florida. According to the Florida Department of Health, Pinellas County is investigating two cases of legionellosis from cases both apparently living in the same apartment community. While withholding information regarding the investigation and outbreak is in line with Florida statute, many people might wonder exactly how serious the disease is and if they should worry! Multiple other outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease have occurred across the United States this year, leaving multiple patients dead. Here is what you should know regarding the disease and the Pinellas County Legionnaires Disease outbreak!

Legionnaires’ Outbreaks

Two cases of legionellosis have been confirmed in Pinellas County, Florida, but per Florida statute, the state’s health department does not disclose the locations of the active investigation. Additionally, little information has been released and the department is keeping ages, gender, and the current health condition of the two sick patience secret.

Another current outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has occurred in Washington Heights, New York, where eight people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ within a brief five day period. Every one of these patients have been hospitalized for issues directly related to the illness, and one has been discharged already. As is common with Legionnaires’ disease, the patients of this outbreak are all middle-aged to elderly with ages ranging from 40 to 80 years old. The majority of the patients, however, were over the age of 50. Thankfully, there have been no deaths associated with this cluster of Legionnaires disease and the Health Department has been successful at locating the source of the disease: cooling towers contaminated with the legionella bacteria.

Another outbreak of Legionnaires occurred just a few months ago in the same place due to the same reason: New York cooling towers. Back in July, 27 people ended up sickened with Legionnaires’ disease, of which most were hospitalized and one died. Of the people who fell ill, the majority were over the age of 50, including the patient who died.

What Should Residence of Pinellas County Do?

Since very little information has been released about the outbreak, including the area that is affected and what the source is, Pinellas County residence are encouraged to pay attention to any and all symptoms they encounter. Flu-like symptoms are to be specifically recognized, and it is recommend that you see your healthcare provider out of an abundance of caution if you experience symptoms similar to pneumonia or influenza, such as: chills, headaches, loss of appetite, muscle aches, fever (often 104 or higher), chest pain when breathing (often due to inflamed lungs), confusion, agitation, a mucus or bloody cough, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

Legionnaires disease is essentially a severe lung infection, similar though more severe than pneumonia, and is treatable with antibiotics. Also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia, this disease is best treated when diagnosed early. Severe health complications and even death are likely if it is left untreated. Importantly, this disease is non-contagious, so there should be no fear of it being passed from person to person. Rather, one’s lungs are most commonly infected by breathing in water vapor contaminated with the legionella bacteria.

It’s important to note that while Legionnaires’ disease most often affects someone’s lungs, it has occasionally been known to cause infections in wounds on other portions of the body, most notably the heart. Respiratory failure, septic shock, and acute kidney failure are also known side effects of this disease. Additionally, Pontiac fever, which is a milder form of Legionnaires’ disease, might produce similar symptoms as Legionnaires’ disease, but it doesn’t affect one’s lungs.

According to research revealed via the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to the legionella bacteria occur every year in the United States alone. However, only about 5,000 cases are reported due to the disease’s nonspecific symptoms. So, Pinellas County residents should be sure to see their doctor if they encounter any flu-like symptoms!

How Do You Get Legionnaires?

As mentioned, legionella bacteria can contaminate water and can later be inhaled through microscopic water droplets in the form of mists or vapor. The bacteria grows best in warmer waters and is most often found in human-made environments – such as the cooling towers in New York. Outbreaks have been linked to more sources than just cooling towers, however, including but not limited to:

  • Water systems in apartment complexes, hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • Air conditioning cooling towers
  • Large plumbing systems
  • Hot-water tanks and heaters
  • Swimming pools
  • Hot tubs
  • Showers and faucets
  • Mist machines
  • Decorative fountains
  • Physical therapy equipment

Another way that people have been known to contract Legionnaires disease is through aspiration of contaminated water. “Aspiration” is what happens when one chokes or coughs while drinking water, leading to small bits of water “going down the wrong pipe” and into the lungs.

People who are 50 years old or older are far more likely to get Legionnaires’ disease than those who are younger. Smokers – current and former – are also at a heightened risk for contracting this disease. Heavy alcohol drinkers, those with chronic lung disease, and sufferers of a compromised immune system are all at a higher risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease. If you or your loved one fits into any of these former categories and then begins showing signs of Legionella pneumonia, be sure to see a doctor immediately.

Conclusion

Small amounts of information have yet to be released concerning Legionnaires’ disease in Pinellas County, but that doesn’t mean residence cannot protect themselves from the threat of this bacteria. Pay attention to your health, look for any signs or symptoms, and be sure to contact your healthcare provider out of an abundance of caution if you believe you have Legionnaires’ disease.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Abigail Ryan, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 6, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Legionnaires Sioux Falls Cases on the Rise

In Sioux Falls South Dakota, the State Department of Health is investigating fourteen confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease. This includes individuals who live in or have recently traveled to Sioux Falls.  Fourteen people were hospitalized, ranging from thirty six to eighty years of age. One person died. As of September 20 of this year, twenty four cases have been reported in South Dakota. The South Dakota state health department has asked for assistance from the CDC in their investigation. No source of the outbreak has been identified to date. Legionnaires Sioux Falls cases appear to possibly be on the rise.

Recent Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Are Cause for Concern

In addition to the Sioux Falls outbreak, three more cases of confirmed Legionnaires’ have appeared at Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The cases were diagnosed and confirmed between August and early September, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. The bacteria appear to be localized, and like the Sioux Falls cases, no source has been determined. The additional assistance of the CDC will most likely help in determining the source in both instances.

Following is a synopsis of the most recent outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease:

  • New York City (July 2018). In the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights, twenty seven people became sickened, according to the New York City health department. Twenty five were hospitalized, and one death occurred. The source of the outbreak was determined to be a cooling tower located near the neighborhood.
  • Cleveland, Ohio (July 2018). A church in Parma, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) was the site of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ at a parish church center there. Eleven parishioners were sickened, with ten hospitalized and one death. Although the church’s cooling towers were sampled, the Legionella (the bacterium responsible for Legionnaires’ disease) was not found. The investigation continues into the source, and the church has seemingly been ruled out as a cause of the illnesses.
  • Palm Springs, California (July 2018). On July 4th, the California Department of Environmental Health closed down the swimming pools at a retirement community in Palm Springs after samples collected revealed the presence of Legionella. Two of the residents became ill with symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease. The pools were closed until sometime in August.
  • Detroit, Michigan (May-July 2018). Legionnaires’ disease was reported on the college campus of Wayne State University. The cooling towers that serviced the Faculty Administration Building, Scott Hall, and the Cohn Building were identified as the sources.
  • McHenry County, Illinois (June 2018). Nine residents of this Illinois county were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease between July 7 and July 1, according to the McHenry County Department of Health. The individuals who became ill were between the ages of forty six and eighty two.
  • Columbus, Ohio (June 2018). Two military veterans suffered symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease after they both visited a Veteran’s Administration ambulatory care center near Columbus. Subsequently, five more individuals complained of Legionnaires’ disease.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii (June 2018). Four patients in a Honolulu hospital were diagnosed in June. One patient died. Subsequent to reported cases, the hospital implemented water restrictions as well as water system testing for Legionella.
  • Laughlin, Nevada (March 2018). Although two cases of Legionnaires’ disease were confirmed in two people staying at the same casino here, it wasn’t until mid-June that the hotel was notified of such by health officials. The cases arose in November of 2017 and March of 2018. The hotel casino posted a survey on its website to inquire as to symptoms of the disease. They also disinfected their water systems and updated their water management plan.
  • Sarasota County, Florida (February 2018). Thirteen individuals were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ in late February following a Florida health investigation. All thirteen individuals had been in the spa and pool area of a single-family home community in the town of North Port. Legionella was discovered in the water heater for the pool area fitness center.
  • San Antonio, Texas (February 2018). A water heater was the suspected source of an outbreak that affected a total of three staff members at Brooke Army Medical Center. Two became infected last summer. The third staff member was diagnosed in early February at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that occurs when a person inhales the Legionella bacteria. However, many more individuals are affected by a second type of this bacterium called Pontiac fever, named after an outbreak of acute respiratory problems that affected employees and visitors in a health department in Pontiac, Michigan. Individuals are far more likely to suffer Pontiac fever than Legionnaires’ disease. According to representatives from the Mayo Clinic, respiratory systems were prominent in both outbreaks, but pneumonia was not observed in Pontiac, and there were no fatalities. Twenty nine of one hundred and eighty two people, however, who suffered from Legionnaires’ disease died.

Legionnaires is frequently contracted by breathing in air droplets or mist that contains the Legionella bacteria. It affects almost 5,000 people each year in the United States, and occurs worldwide. Even though L. pneumophila (the actual name of the bacterium) is susceptible to the deleterious effects of chlorine, the chlorine is not as effective in high-temperature water such as is found in hot tubs or heated pools. The bacteria thrive in this kind of environment. Temperatures between 68 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for the multiplication and spread of the bacteria.

Risk Factors for the Disease

Many individuals can be exposed to the Legionella bacteria and suffer no ill effects. However, people who are most at risk of contracting the disease or experiencing severe symptoms are:

  • Individuals Over 50 Years of Age: The disease is more likely to affect those over 50.
  • Existing Health Conditions: Smokers, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and those with lung cancer are at highest risk. Smoking causes lung damage, increasing the susceptibility to lung infections.
  • Immunosuppression: Individuals with diabetes, kidney disease, leukemia, and those undergoing chemotherapy treatments are at greatest risk because of weakened immune systems. Also included are those individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, and corticosteroid medications taken to prevent organ rejection following a transplant.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk, and there is some thought that suggest cannabis use may even increase susceptibility.

A combination of the above risk factors of course, produced the highest probability of infection.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Kerry Bazany, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

October 1, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Legionnaires in Nursing Homes

It’s happened again: Legionnaires’ disease has infected a nursing home! Legionnaires in Nursing Homes is a major issue that is growing. This time, Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Providence, Rhode Island, is in the spotlight. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, they have confirmed three cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the center. This isn’t the first time that this disease has affected similar institutes.

Legionnaires in Nursing Homes

The bottom line is that nursing homes could do a lot more in the way of protecting their patients from catching Legionnaires’ disease from the contaminated water systems within their buildings. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), back in 2015, an analysis of nearly 3000 Legionnaires’ illnesses found that 553 cases were either definitely or most likely caused by the patient being in some sort of healthcare facility, such as a nursing home or hospital. 66 of the 553 patients ended up dying from the disease.

According to CDC director, Anne Schuchat, Legionnaires is “widespread, it’s deadly, and it’s preventable.” Since Legionnaires’ disease is much more likely to affect elderly persons over the age of 50, people with compromised immune systems or preexisting health conditions, as well as smokers, many people residing in a nursing home are highly susceptible to the disease! The CDC explains on it’s website that, “Many people being treated at health care facilities, including long-term care facilities and hospitals, have conditions that put them at greater risk of getting sick and dying from LD.”

The CDC’s Thoughts

In the CDC’s opinion, nursing homes should be doing more to prevent their elderly, high susceptible residents from contracting the disease. They should be working harder to keep this bacteria from reaching places that patients are exposed to, especially showers, sinks, bathtubs, hot tubs, and any other medical equipment that utilizes water.

The CDC website goes on to explain,

Legionella grows best in buildings with large water systems that are not managed effectively. CDC outbreak investigations show that effective water management programs can help prevent problems that lead to LD. These actions reduce the risk of Legionella growing and spreading in building water systems. Health care facility leaders should be aware that LD is a risk in their facility. They can take action to prevent infections.

Prevention

And according to Schuchat, “We know if those facilities have an effective water-management system they can prevent these infections. Nobody wants their loved one to go into a hospital or a long-term care facility and end up with Legionnaires’ disease.”

The CDC offers a list of ways for healthcare professionals to improve the state of their water systems in order to best protect their residence:

  • Build a team focused on keeping their facility’s water safe.
  • Create and use a water management program to limit Legionella and other waterborne germs from growing and spreading.
  • The agency can work with healthcare providers to identify LD cases early.
  • The agency can determine if the cases are associated with a particular healthcare facility.
  • Report LD cases to local public health authorities quickly and work with them to investigate and prevent additional cases.

They go on to explain that leaders might include: infection control practitioners, facility managers, hospital administrators, and quality assurance staff.

Safer Facilities Needed

But even with this information, many nursing homes and hospitals fail to provide adequate, safe environments for their patients. An additional report investigated 6,079 cases of Legionnaires’ disease that occurred nationwide in 2015. It focused on 2,809 of which that occurred in a narrowed-down area. They believe 468 of these cases began in a healthcare facility. And they proved 85 were. The report confirmed 80% of cases were in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes.

“This analysis has uncovered a problem that is happening every day in health care facilities around the country and something we can do a lot about,” Schuchat said. “This report suggests that in many healthcare facilities, there’s really just an outbreak waiting to happen.”

What Happened in Rhode Island?

A place where patients go to find supported health and rest resulted in a life-threatening form of pneumonia. Three cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported their illnesses to the health department. The agency confirmed their exposures occurred at Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. According to Joseph Wendelken, the spokesman for the agency, health providers diagnosed the cases in mid-August and early September. Due to privacy laws, Wendelken said that he was unable to comment on the health of the cases. They agency confirmed the bacteria location. They confirmed this does not put the general public at risk of infection.

The Rhode Island Department of Health has said that they have advised the health facility to seek remediation.  According to Wendelken, the center hired a contractor to implement the steps to control the outbreak and help solve the contaminated water issue. Wendelken said, “They’ve treated the water, they’ve adjusted the chlorination in the water to kill the bacteria in addition to installing filtration systems throughout, and they’re going to be doing ongoing sampling to make sure that treatment is working.”

He went on to explain that the bacteria does not cause illnesses in most people. The disease mainly infects susceptible hosts.  “Legionnaires’ disease can be very serious for certain types of people, over the age of 50, people who are smokers, people with underlying lung conditions or underlying medical conditions,” Wendelken said. “If they do [get sick], and if the illness is diagnosed, it’s usually treated with antibiotics.”

Conclusion

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious health condition. Therefore, people should be reporting their illnesses and seek professional treatment as soon as possible. Why? First, early treatment can help protect a patient from possibly fatal consequences. Nursing homes and hospitals must improve their water systems in order to protect residing patients. Patients need to respond quickly signs of disease and seek quick treatment. If you or anyone you know is experiencing Legionnaires’ symptoms, be sure to see your healthcare provider as quickly as possible.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Abigail Ryan, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 27, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Legionnaires disease Sioux Falls Outbreak

While some might be led to believe that a non-contagious disease is less serious than the alternative of a highly contagious illness, Legionnaires’ is a severe disease that should never be taken so lightly. According to South Dakota health officials, a breakout of Legionnaires’ disease has not only occurred in Sioux Falls, but it recently experienced a substantial jump. The Legionnaires disease Sioux Falls Outbreak currently has 14 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in either individuals who live in or have recently traveled to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, of which all have been hospitalized and one died.

What Is Legionnaires Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of lung inflammation that is usually caused by an infection that develops two to 10 after exposure to the bacterium legionella. This disease is a form of pneumonia. Essentially, the legionella bacteria tends to cause a Pontiac fever and other flu-like symptoms. It frequently manifests itself on the first day with distinguishable signs and symptoms, such as headaches, muscle pains, chills, fever exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit. By the second or third day, additional symptoms tend to occur, such as a cough that can be bloody, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and often confusion or other mental changes.

While the fever tends to dissipate on its own, if the remaining symptoms are left untreated or otherwise ignored, it can quickly develop into a life-threatening illness. Immediate treatment is highly necessary to conquer this disease as safely as possible. So, if you believe you are suffering from any stage of Legionnaires disease, seek treatment as soon as possible. According to professionals at the Mayo Clinic, you should, “see your doctor if you think you’ve been exposed to legionella bacteria. Diagnosing and treating legionnaires’ disease as soon as possible can help shorten the recovery period and prevent serious complications. For people at high risk, prompt treatment is critical.”

Medical Attention Required

Professional treatment with antibiotics tends to cure the disease fairly quickly. Many cases tend to experienced continued problems after the treatment. Legionnaires’ disease majorly affects the lungs of the patient. It can also cause serious infections other wounds, and in other sections of the body such as the heart.

How You Get It

Fortunately, Legionnaires’ disease isn’t contagious and is unable to be transferred from one person to another via personal contact. Unfortunately, it is contracted at a far more mischievous and unpredictable way: inhaling or otherwise ingesting the bacterium legionella. If the bacteria is contaminating water droplets in the air, they are easily able to be inhaled. Then, the bacteria soon develops into a lung infection in the host. Inhaling microscopic water droplets containing the legionella bacteria cause the disease, such as the steam of a shower, faucet, or whirlpool, as well as any water that could be dispersed throughout a ventilation system. Grocery store mist machines, cooling towers, air conditioning systems, decorative foundation, hot tubs, hotel or hospital water systems, and swimming pools have all been linked to the spread of Legionnaires’ disease in the past.

Elderly adults, current or prior smokers, as well as individuals with preexisting health conditions or otherwise compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to manifesting the disease.

What Happened in Sioux Fox?

South Dakota is not unaccustomed to Legionnaires’ disease, with between eight and 15 cases appearing every year. However, as of September 20th, 24 people have reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease cases. This is well above the standard. The state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Joshua Clayton, explained that the Health Department specifically requested aid from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They did this in order to investigate this most recent outbreak. The agency hopes of discovering the reason behind the substantial increase in illnesses.

According to Clayton, “The Department has requested assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide additional resources to help us investigate this increase in cases. In addition to enhanced case investigations, CDC will assist us with environmental assessments and testing to identify water sources that may contain the Legionella bacteria. However, it is often the case that a single source may not be found.”

Investigation

Currently, the South Dakota Department of Health is investigating 14 cases that ill people already reported and confirmed as Legionnaires’ disease. These cases include individuals who live in Sioux Falls and also several who have traveled there as a visit. One death has already occurred, 14 hospitalizations, and the search for the source of the disease is well underway. The health department has worked on interviewing patients in order to help identify the potential exposure. They understand fully that Legionnaires’ more easily develops in hot, humid waters.

CDC Helping

The South Dakota Department of Health formally offered a press release. They stated, “In addition to case investigations and environmental assessments, CDC will be assisting the Department to provide an education program for businesses on the proper maintenance and operation of cooling towers, hot tubs and other water features. The Sioux Falls Health Department will be coordinating outreach to local businesses.”

Sioux Falls is working alongside the health department willingly in order to get to the source of the illness. According to the Sioux Falls Public Health Director, Jill Franken, “As with past public health concerns, we are ready to assist the South Dakota State Department of Health investigate Legionella cases and to help identify opportunities to reduce risk to this community.”

Conclusion

Individuals over the age of 50, smokers, previous smokers, and people with certain medical problems – such as poor immune systems, chronic lung disease, and many other chronic health issues – are at a heightened risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease when exposed to the bacteria. Be sure to look out for unusual symptoms of:

  • muscle aches,
  • chills,
  • shortness of breath,
  • headaches,
  • fatigue,
  • coughing, and
  • other flu-like symptoms like a high fever and pneumonia tendencies.

Anyone living in or visiting Sioux Falls should be especially wary of any such symptoms. If you find yourself experiencing them then you should see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Abigail Ryan, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 24, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest
Bronx Legionnaires Disease Outbreak

More cases of Legionnaires’ disease are turning up just as Health Officials report a previous outbreak is over. There is now a Bronx Legionnaires disease outbreak.

Washington Heights Outbreak Over

In Washington Heights, Manhattan, Health officials have finally breathed a sigh of relief announcing the cluster was “over”. Washington Heights unfortunately recorded one fatality due to complications with Legionnaires’ disease. This cluster sickened 27 people sending 25 of those to the hospital. Once the outbreak was confirmed, a cooling tower was found to hold the bacteria.

This time we turn our attention to the Bronx, New York, where three confirmed cases have been reported in the past few days. Health officials discovered they all live in the same residential building and became sick about the same time. Around the country, Legionnaires’ disease (Legionella bacterium) is turning up more and more each day.

What We Know

Before we address Legionnaires’ and what we need to be aware of, we need to first understand what we are dealing with. Remember: knowledge is power folks.

Thankfully, the individuals who contracted Legionnaires’ have since been released from the hospital; but, Health Officials are keeping a close eye out for more. Steps are being taken where these cases came from as well as buildings in proximity.

According to PIX 11 News, this has grabbed the attention of the congressional 13th district as well: “he (Adriano Espaillat) will be calling for an immediate and comprehensive testing protocol in all NYCHA buildings in all housing complexes …” This is great news for the surrounding boroughs as well as other neighborhoods.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ is a bacterium that causes pneumonia. If left unchecked, this lung infection can move from flu-like symptoms to death. OSHA states: “around 6,000 Legionnaires’ disease cases are reported each year in the United States. However, scientists believe the reported totals are much lower than the actual cases due in part to the difficulty in distinguishing Legionnaires’ disease from other types of pneumonia. The most recent U.S. population-based study estimated that 8,000-18,000 people are hospitalized each year with Legionnaires’ disease.”

Staggering numbers for something so deadly.

How is Legionnaires’ contracted?

This one is pretty straightforward … there is no ‘food’ issues here. Legionnaires’ comes from water systems. This might seem more difficult to battle but there are a few rule to consider when we discuss this disease. When the term water is used, it is important to remember this is in mist form. It is important to differentiate drinking from inhaling: drinking enters the stomach, while inhaling enters the lungs.

This is not a disease you can contract from someone else either. Once a person breathes in mist contaminated with Legionella, they cannot pass it on to someone close to them.

What can Legionnaires do to you?

The incubation period is the hardest part for Health Officials when trying to narrow down a cause. Legionnaires’ can stay in a person up to ten days before symptoms present themselves. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

Notice anything odd about these symptoms? You shouldn’t. They look like common cold/flu symptoms. This is why we stress getting to a doctor quickly when your body tells you there is something wrong. Tests can be ran to give the doctor an idea why you are feeling the way you are. Without visiting the doctor, you run the risk of getting worse.

High Risk

When it comes to risks, there are groups that are more acceptable:

  • Middle-aged or older
  • Chronic lung disease sufferers
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Smokers

As someone who quit smoking almost two years ago, I will not tell you the dangers of smoking here; I will simply tell you to quit if you value your health, life, and the lives of those who love you.

Seek Medical Health

So what happens if you don’t seek medical help? Long term issues can affect your quality of life. Outbreak survivors reported persistence in fatigue, neurological symptoms, and neuromuscular symptoms for months after the initial outbreak. This is also not taking into account the real danger of death if left untreated.

Can we prevent Legionnaires’?

Unlike certain food safety tips, I cannot tell you to stay away from water. There are however, tips to keep in mind when the possibility of breathing in water could lead to Legionnaires’ disease. Living in larger housing apartments could also lead to higher danger levels and there are steps to ensure you are safe as well.

Legionella grows better in warm water. This includes: Whirlpools, spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, and hot water tanks. In order to keep the bacterium from growing, washing out pipes and water systems should be a regular occurrence. Of course, this is more difficult of you live in an apartment building so getting information to your landlord will help you and your neighbors. The CDC developed a toolkit for download on Water Management Programs for buildings in order to help owners know what to do to keep their tenants safe. Communicate with your building owners to see if this procedure is already in place.

Looking Ahead

The question I am asked more than any when people find out I contribute to a food safety site is: how can I stay safe? If I had all of the answers we would not be here learning them together. I try to set a good example to my family and friends. We stay diligent when it comes to reading about the latest outbreak. I follow food safety practices every day when cooking meals or eating out. But is it enough?

We all need to stay aware of what is happening around us when it comes to the food we eat. My advice when asked: stay informed. Taking the time to read about certain food safety issues and outbreaks is the best place to start. Here at makefoodsafe.com, there is a wealth of information. If there is something you would like to know about that you do not see here please contact us. In the meantime, stay informed and stay safe.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease, we want you to know that a Legionnaires’ Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer.

If you or a loved one have become ill with Legionnaires’ disease, you can call 833.330.3663 for a free consultation or complete the form here.

By: Dwight Spencer, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)

September 23, 2018
0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest