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Houston Legionnaires’ Attorney

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. The bacteria thrive in water and can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made water systems such as cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, and decorative fountains.

How Does Legionella Cause Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionella bacteria cause Legionnaires’ disease by infecting the lungs and leading to pneumonia.

Infection Process

  • Source of Infection: Legionella bacteria thrive in water systems such as cooling towers, hot tubs, and plumbing systems. When water containing Legionella is aerosolized, small droplets can be inhaled.
  • Exposure: People can become exposed to these aerosols in settings such as hotels, hospitals, and workplaces.
  • Respiratory Tract: Once inhaled, the bacteria travel through the respiratory tract and reach the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs).
  • Adhesion: The bacteria adhere to the cells lining the alveoli.
  • Invasion and Replication:
    • Alveolar Macrophages: Legionella bacteria are taken up by alveolar macrophages, which are immune cells responsible for engulfing and destroying pathogens.
    • Intracellular Survival: Legionella bacteria survive and replicate within these macrophages instead of being destroyed. They do this by preventing the fusion of the phagosome (the vesicle containing the bacteria) with lysosomes (which contain destructive enzymes).
    • Replication: The bacteria multiply within the macrophages, eventually causing the cell to burst and releasing more bacteria to infect other cells.

Immune Response

  • Inflammatory Response:
    • Cytokine Release: The infected macrophages release cytokines, signaling molecules that trigger an inflammatory response.
    • Immune Cell Recruitment: This response attracts more immune cells to the site of infection, leading to inflammation and fluid accumulation in the lungs.
  • Tissue Damage:
    • Pneumonia: Inflammation and fluid buildup cause pneumonia symptoms, such as coughing, difficulty breathing, and chest pain.
    • Toxin Production: Legionella bacteria may also produce toxins contributing to lung tissue damage.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease

As the disease progresses, so does the severity of the symptoms.

  • Initial Symptoms: Early symptoms include headache, muscle pain, and fever.
  • Progression: As the disease progresses, patients may experience a persistent cough (often dry or with sputum), shortness of breath, high fever, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue.
  • Systemic Effects: In severe cases, the infection can spread beyond the lungs, causing complications such as kidney failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure.

How to Prevent Legionnaires’ Outbreaks

Preventing Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks requires a comprehensive approach to inhibit the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria. Effective prevention strategies are crucial, especially in environments with complex water systems such as hospitals, hotels, and office buildings, where the risk of exposure is higher. By implementing rigorous maintenance protocols, conducting regular water quality testing, and educating stakeholders about best practices, we can significantly reduce the risk of Legionella contamination and protect public health.

Regular Maintenance

Regularly maintaining and disinfecting water systems can prevent the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria. This includes routine cleaning and chlorination of cooling towers, hot tubs, and plumbing systems.

Keeping hot water systems at temperatures above 140°F (60°C) and cold water systems below 68°F (20°C) can help prevent bacterial growth.

Monitoring and Testing

Regular testing of water systems for Legionella bacteria can help identify potential contamination before it leads to an outbreak.

Regular risk assessment of water systems, especially in high-risk environments like hospitals and nursing homes, is essential for early detection and prevention.

Public Awareness

Informing building owners, managers, and the public about the risks and prevention strategies for Legionnaires’ disease can enhance compliance with safety measures and reduce the incidence of outbreaks.

Houston Legionnaires’ Statistics

In Houston, 218 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported between 2014 and 2018; 53% of these reports were confirmed cases. The ages of affected people ranged from 21 to 96, with a median age of 60. Although rare, two cases of children affected by legionellosis were reported in 2019.

The state of Texas reported an increase in cases between 2011 (211 cases) and 2019 (421 cases). This is also supported by the Legionnaires’ disease incidence rates per 100,000 for Texas; in 2016, the incidence rate was 0.97, and in 2017, it had increased to 1.16.

Call Us Today

Seeking justice for Legionnaires’ disease? If you or a loved one has been impacted by Legionnaires’ disease or Legionella, don’t wait. Call (833) 330-3663 or message us online for a free consultation. Our expert team will thoroughly investigate your case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today!

Legionnaires’ Disease Resources