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A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak this Thursday has left one sick and one dead. This time at a 200 bed Senior assisted living center in Guilderland, NY. Authorities have been trying to work with the facility to not only contain the outbreak but figure out how this happened. Here is what we know so far about the Promenade at University Place Legionnaires Outbreak:
The Promenade at University Place, an assisted living facility, reported two of their seniors came down with an unknown illness. When the Albany County Department of Health was called, they immediately took samples of the water. Legionella bacteria were found in the samples taken causing the facility to react.
For now, the facility is still under strict water conditions until the authorities can determine where the bacteria came from. Unfortunately, many times the cause remains a mystery and damage control is the only plan.
For your further reading and study, because I know you check the links I provide, there is a bit of an older issue surrounding this location. In the past, the building was a Best Western hotel, and during that time there was also a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak (about 7 tears ago to be exact). Put on your deerstalker, head down to Baker Street, and see what you can find.
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease falls into the category of a pneumonia. It is found in water systems; especially ones that are warmer: hot tubs, hot water heaters, large plumbing systems (found at motels), cruise ships, and decorative fountains just to name a few. We all know bacteria grows in warmer places so this would make sense.
People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breath in mist from water that has been contaminated. Shower-heads, steam from a hot tubs, water vapors from cooling towers, or droplets from faucets.
Who is at Risk?
According to medlineplus.gov, pneumonia “is an infection in one or both of the lungs. Many germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi can cause pneumonia. You can also get pneumonia from inhaling a liquid or chemical.” Although this is a common occurrence, Legionnaires’ hits harder do to who is most at risk:
What are the Symptoms?
Legionnaires has an incubation period from 2 to 10 days which makes finding the origin that much harder. While the symptoms may look like the flu or most sicknesses, it is important (as with any sickness) to seek medical attention quickly. Because the elderly are at a higher risk, time is important. Here are the most common symptoms:
Weak and tired. For the first several days, these feelings may look like the regular flu.
High fever. Patients who finally get to the hospital have reported fevers around 103 degrees. We all know this is dangerous.
A persistent cough. This is a sign of a lung infection. Pneumonia attacks the lungs so pay attention to any type of mucous too.
Stomach symptoms. Diarrhea is the most common one here along with nausea and vomiting (lesser).
Shortness of breath.
While the above list may not include life-threatening problems, Legionnaires can lead to more serious complications.
Kidney failure. When your kidneys fail, fluids and waste pool in your body and can lead to death.
Septic shock. When your blood pressure falls, blood cannot reach vital organs in the body causing the heart to work harder leading to even less blood flow. The heart can fail causing a heart attack.
Respiratory failure. When the lungs cannot function as normal, there is a chance of ‘shut-down’. When our lungs are not functioning our bodies are deprived of air leading to certain death.
Again, seeking medical attention is not only important but necessary. Over the counter medications will not help with Legionnaires. Time is an issue – do not wait.
“Legionnaires’ disease is a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia … Each year; an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 people are infected with the Legionella bacteria in the United States.” (source) I mentioned how time was a factor when you believe someone might have Legionnaires. This is why.
There are many antibiotics that can help in battling Legionnaires and have a high rate of helping patents get past this dangerous time. There are two classes of antibiotics that have high success rates: macrolides and quinolones. As always, get informed and stay informed.
Can it be Prevented?
Prevention of Legionnaires’ disease IS possible. The easiest way to keep bacteria out of water sources is to clean and disinfect like your life depended on it. For businesses that own cooling towers, it is important to sterilize, and often! I have an OCD when it comes to cleaning my kitchen and this desire to keep water sources clean would have to be used.
Another huge part in prevention is to not smoke. I smoked for 15 years and have been smoke free for 2. I am proud of that fact and celebrate the day I gave up smoking each year. Smoking deteriorates the lungs and as we get older we are more susceptible to pneumonia. Quit now!
In the meantime, if you are sick with pneumonia-like symptoms and have been in or around the Promenade Assisted Living facility, seek medical attention right away.
Since this outbreak happened days ago, there is little information on the findings as far as the Department of Health. The investigation is ongoing and there are likely to be more cases added to the outbreak. Stay close and if there is more information we will follow up. In the meantime, it is important to know where places are that hold the possibility of an outbreak like this. I am not singling any one place out, just be aware if you are traveling, belong to an establishment that has a larger water system than your house, or if you have a hot tub.
My heart goes out to the family of the senior who passed as I’m sure yours does too. By staying informed, cleaning meticulously, and understanding signs and symptoms; we now have a better understanding on what Legionnaires’ disease is and how to keep safe.
As with all information of this nature, please share with everyone you know. You never know when you might save a life. We care about your safety. After all, it’s why I’m here.
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.
Those diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease may be entitled to compensation.
Get in touch with us by giving a call on (833) 330-3663 or complete the form here.