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Summit Commons Legionnaires Outbreak

Posted in Legionnaire's disease,Outbreaks & Recalls on September 21, 2018

The Summit Commons Legionnaires outbreak is linked to Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, an assisted living facility. Three people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease linked to the rehabilitation center since the middle of August. Health agents identified the most recent case in early September. The Rhode Island Department of Health confirms that they found the bacteria in the water system of the health care center. The health department has gone in and inspected the facility’s water supply. According to Health Department spokesman Joseph Wendelken, the health department has confirmed treatment of the problem:

“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.”

The Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center has also allegedly changed the faucets and shower heads to keep the contamination from spreading to other areas of the facility.

Summit Commons Legionnaires Outbreak

The department’s spokesman said he could not comment on the three patients’ health due to HIPAA privacy laws, but did confirmed that the outbreak appears to be isolated. He commented that the public is not at risk at this time. The health department is continuing its investigation and met with the families of those who were sick this week.

“Unfortunately, when we see a lot of cases of Legionnaires’ disease, it tends to be in assisted living facilities and nursing homes and that’s really for two reasons. One is that you just really have a very vulnerable population. So, people who are older than 50 years old, people that have underlying lung conditions, underlying medical conditions, people who have a history of smoking are much more susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease,” Mr. Wendelken also said.

He also commented that the second factor is nursing homes have restrictions on hot water temperature to avoid burns, so accumulating bacteria might not get killed off like it would if water temperature were set higher. He told the local media that said the bacteria is common, but it is rare for people to contract Legionnaire’s disease. There were about 50 cases in Rhode Island last year.

About Legionnaires’ Disease 

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a very severe, often deadly, form of bacterial pneumonia.  The Legionella bacteria that cause this disease live in water.  When air conditioning systems spread water droplets contaminated with Legionella bacteria, anyone who breathes in the water vapor can become sick with Legionnaires’ Disease.  Every year, Legionnaires’ disease infects 10,000 to 18,000 Americans.

How do you get Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease infects people when they breathe in water vapor that is contaminated with Legionella bacteria.  Legionella bacteria lives in many water sources.  Proper water safety measures can kill the Legionella bacteria and prevent building residents from getting Legionnaires’ Disease.  But when proper water safety measures are not in place, cooling towers, air-conditioning units, hot tubs, and showers in large buildings can cause Legionnaires’ outbreaks.

Can Legionnaires’ disease kill you?

It can. Legionnaires’ disease has a high mortality rate. The mortality rate for Legionnaires’ disease in a residential or hotel setting is between 5% to 30%. However, if someone contracted the disease in a hospital or other medical setting, the mortality rate can be as much as 50%. In most cases, untreated Legionnaires’ disease could be fatal.

Is it curable?

Yes! Early medical attention for Legionnaires’ disease will help an infected person recover. Once a doctor has done proper testing to confirm the illness, doctors will usually prescribe antibiotics, like Bactrim, to the patient.

How long does it take for Legionnaires’ disease to show symptoms?

Legionnaires’ Disease symptoms often begin within 2 to 10 days after a person is exposed to Legionella bacteria. But symptoms can take longer to develop.  If you think you may have been exposed to Legionella bacteria, you should watch out for symptoms for about 2 weeks.

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ Disease symptoms are similar to other types of pneumonia symptoms.  Have you been exposed to Legionella bacteria? You should watch for these symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fever
  • Aching Muscles
  • Headaches
  • Sometimes people also experience diarrhea, nausea, or confusion.
How do you find out if you have Legionnaires’ disease?

Only a doctor can give a Legionnaires’ disease diagnosis. A doctor will usually order a chest x-ray or possibly a CT scan to confirm the presence of the infection in the lungs. Most doctors like to use two types of tests to see if an infected person has Legionnaires’ disease. Additional tests may include: a urine test, sampling the sputum or phlegm an infected person coughs up, or washing from the lungs.

Can you recover from Legionnaires’ disease?

You can, but usually with the assistance of medical treatment and antibiotics. Doctors do not recommend self-treatment of Legionnaires’ disease.

Does Legionnaires’ disease go away by itself?

In some cases, it can. However, those who are at especially high risk for severe infections should never try to tough it out alone. Those who are elderly, have lung conditions, or who smoke are at the highest risk for severe Legionnaires’ infections.

Can you recover from Legionnaires’ disease?

Statistics show that about 90% of people who seek early medical treatment for Legionnaires’ disease will make a full recovery.

How long does it take to recover from Legionnaire’s disease?

If someone has sought early medical attention, they usually start to feel better within a few days. But it can take weeks, or sometimes months for more severe cases, for someone to go back to normal.

Can you get Legionnaires’ disease from drinking water?

Yes, but it is uncommon. One usually becomes infected with Legionnaires’ disease from drinking water after they have aspirated (or the feeling of fluid “going down the wrong pipe.”) However, this is quite rare.

Can you sue for Legionnaires’ disease?

Yes, you can if the health agency has found a source. A typical Legionnaires’ disease claim seeks compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. If someone you love died because of contracting Legionnaires’ disease, the family may have a wrongful death claim.

Our Legionnaires’ Lawyer is Here to Help You 

If you believe you have developed Legionnaires’ disease from Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, 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: Candess Zona-Mendola, Editor (Non-Lawyer)