What is Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a deadly form of pneumonia that spreads through inhalation of contaminated airborne water particles in or around cooling towers, ventilation systems, hot tubs, and fountains. The illness is severe and usually requires hospitalization, often in an intensive care unit (ICU).
Sources of Infection
Legionella becomes a problem occurs when the bacteria grows and spreads in human-made building water systems, such as:
- Shower heads and sink faucets
- Cooling towers (structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems for building or industrial processes)
- Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
- Decorative fountains and water features
- Hot water tanks and heaters
- Large plumbing systems
Legionnaires in Hospitals and Nursing Homes
Nursing homes and hospitals need to do more to protect their patients from catching Legionnaires’ disease from contaminated water systems, according to a CDC analysis published June 9, 2017. The researchers looked at over 2,800 cases of Legionnaires’ that occurred in 2015 and determined that 553 definitely or possibly occurred in a healthcare facility such as a nursing home or a hospital. At least 66 patients died from the disease, according to the analysis.
“We know if those facilities have an effective water-management system they can prevent these infections,” said Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director. “Nobody wants their loved one to go into a hospital or a long-term care facility and end up with Legionnaires’ disease.”
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include high fever, chills and coughing. The time between exposure to the bacteria and the appearance of symptoms is generally 2 to 10 days, but can take longer. According to the CDC, between 5 and 30% of those who contract Legionnaires’ die from the disease.
Who’s to Blame?
The owners and managers of any building or property where an outbreak of Legionnaires’ has occurred face potential legal liability and claims from victims of the disease. In the past, this has included persons and corporations involved with the ownership, operation and management of hotels, hospitals, senior housing facilities, cruise ships, nursing homes, shopping malls, and condominiums.
- August 2015 – At least 16 people died and 133 people were sickened with Legionnaires in an outbreak at a hotel in New York. The bacteria was allegedly found in the cooling towers of the hotel.
- September 2015 – New York health officials announced an investigation in the Morris Park section of the Bronx. There were at least 15 cases of Legionnaires and one death.
- August 26, 2015 – An inmate at San Quentin State Prison was taken to an outside hospital where he was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. There were at least 6 confirmed cases with 5 inmates at outside hospitals, and 51 inmates under observation for respiratory illness.
- July 2001 – The world’s largest outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease reported to date occurred in Murcia, Spain. More than 800 suspected cases were reported; 449 these cases were confirmed.
- The 1976 Legionnaires Disease outbreak also known as Legion Fever, was the the first known cases of infection by the bacterium, Legionella pneumophilia, in the U.S.
‘We Were There’ – Legionnaires’: CDC Video
Are You at Risk?
People who may be at an increased risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease include:
- People 50 years or older
- Current or former smokers
- People with chronic lung disease
- People with weakened immune systems
- People who take drugs that can weaken their immune systems (after a transplant operation or chemotherapy)
- People with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure
Most cases of Legionnaires disease are treated with a combination of antibiotics, according to the CDC. However, in patients with Pontiac fever (a condition very similar to, and often misdiagnosed as Legionnaires), antibiotics should not be prescribed. Click on the following link to view the most recent IDSA-ATS guidelines for treatment of community-acquired pneumonia.
How Did Legionnaires Get Its Name?
Legionnaires’ disease got its name from the first outbreak in which the bacterium was identified as the cause, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health administration (OSHA). This outbreak occurred in 1976, in a Philadelphia hotel where the Pennsylvania American Legion was having a convention.
Legionnaires Outbreak at 2 Chicago Nursing Homes
Jan. 14, 2020 – The Illinois Department of Public Health is investigating at least 3 cases of Legionnaires’ disease at 2 nursing homes on the Near North Side of Chicago, according to WTTW. Two residents at Balmoral Nursing Home (2055 W. Balmoral Ave.) and one resident at Admiral at the Lake (929 W. Foster Ave.) have been diagnosed with the disease, but officials say the cases don’t appear to be related.
Legionnaires’ Cases Hit Record High in 2018
The number of people diagnosed with Legionnaires disease reached a new record high last year, up more than 8-fold since officials began keeping track in the mid-1970s. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday that it was aware of at least 9,933 people who developed Legionellosis, which includes both Legionnaires disease and Pontiac fever, in 2018. The true number of people with the infections is likely significantly higher, as many people who get sick never seek medical treatment, according to the CDC.
4 Dead in Legionnaires Outbreak Linked to North Carolina State Fair Hot Tub
October 23, 2019 – A fourth person has died in an outbreak of Legionnaires disease linked to a hot tub exhibit at the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, North Carolina, according to KPAX-TV. In addition to the deaths, approximately 140 other people who attended the fair have fallen ill with symptoms of legionella; none of the victims has been identified by authorities, and health officials have not discussed the circumstances of the deaths.
Legionnaires Outbreak Linked to Massachusetts Apartment Complex
October 21, 2019 – At least 2 residents of the Pequot Highlands Apartments in Salem, Massachusetts, have been diagnosed with Legionnaires disease, according to NBC 10 Boston. Management at the apartment complex say they were notified by the Salem Board of Health of the 2 confirmed cases of Legionnaires on October 3. All residents have been made aware of the situation, and 2 independent environmental testing companies conducted tests on October 7. Those test results came back positive in the hot water system in various locations of the building, according to NBC.
North Carolina State Fair Hot Tub Exhibit Linked to 3rd Death
October 17, 2019 – A third person has died following an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease linked to a hot tub exhibit at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, according to FOX News. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Monday confirmed the death, in addition to at least 140 other cases of Legionnaires in people who visited the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center between September 6 and September 15, where the hot tub exhibit was held. Those sickened were more likely to say they walked by the hot tub display compared to those who were not sickened, health officials said in an Oct. 3 update.
Second Death Linked to North Carolina Fair Hot Tub
October 14, 2019 – Health officials have confirmed a second death linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires associated with a hot tub exhibit at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, according to Insurance Journal. At least 134 cases of the infection have been reported to date in people who attended the fair last month in Fletcher, according to the North Carolina Health and Human Services. In addition to the 2 deaths, at least 88 people have been hospitalized for complications of Legionnaires disease, officials said.
North Carolina Legionnaires Outbreak Linked to State Fair Hot Tub Exhibit
October 7, 2019 – At least 124 cases of Legionnaires disease have been linked to a hot tub exhibit at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, according to the Daily Beast. One patient has died in the outbreak, which affected employees and attendees of the fair, that took place at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center from September 6-15. Health officials say they traced Legionella bacteria to the Davis Event Center.
“Preliminary findings indicate that people who were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease were much more likely to have visited the Davis Event Center while at the fair and much more likely to report having walked by the hot-tub displays compared to people who did not get sick,” the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. “Taken together, these early findings suggest that low levels of Legionella present were able to grow in hot tubs or possibly some other source in the Davis Event Center leading to exposure through breathing in aerosolized water that contained the bacteria.”
Michigan Healthcare Center Patient Dead From Legionnaires
October 4, 2019 – One of two patients at the Heartland Health Care Center in Flushing, Michigan, who was diagnosed with Legionnaires disease has died from complications, according to MLive. Local health officials are investigating the cases, which seem to be connected to the healthcare center’s skilled nursing facility, but have yet to identify the source of the bacteria. Residents, staff and visitors of Heartland Health Care Center are using bottled water until there are no signs of Legionella in the facility’s water system following discovery of the bacteria during testing.
95 Sick, 1 Dead in North Carolina State Fair Legionnaires Outbreak
October 1, 2019 – Nearly 100 people who visited the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, North Carolina, developed symptoms of Legionnaires, including 1 man who died from complications of the illness, according to USA TODAY. Local health officials have not been able to identify the source of Legionella associated with the outbreak, although they’ve declared the WNC Agricultural Center safe for occupancy. Multiple patients remain hospitalized in critical condition, officials said.
Ohio Senior Living Patient Diagnosed With Legionnaires
September 24, 2019 – A patient at the Altenheim Senior Living Facility has tested positive for Legionella, according to FOX 8 Cleveland. A spokesperson from the rehab center said water supply at the facility was shut down pending results of an investigation. Officials have not yet identified the source of the bacteria.
New York HealthWorks Center Tests Positive for Legionella
September 20, 2019 – Water samples from the Guthrie HealthWorks Wellness and Fitness Center in Erwin, New York, have tested positive for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease, according to WENY News. Officials from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) said the facility has been closed until it “implements measures to prevent potential exposure to legionella.” To date, no cases of Legionnaires have been linked to Guthrie HealthWorks, officials said.
2 New Cases of Legionnaires Confirmed in Illinois Suburb
September 16, 2019 – At least 2 more patients in Batavia, Illinois, have developed symptoms of Legionnaires disease after 12 were already found with the infection at a retirement home, according to WBBM Radio. The new cases, which were identified on Thursday, are unique in that they are “community-Based.” After identifying the most recent cases, the IDPH has taken samples of potential sources within a one-mile radius of the Covenant Living campus, officials said.
Legionnaires Outbreak Reported in Chicago Suburb
September 3, 2019 – Health authorities in Kane County, Illinois, are investigating at least 4 cases of Legionnaires disease linked to a retirement home in the Chicago suburb of Batavia, according to NBC 5 Chicago. Officials have tested water sources at the facility, Covenant Living at the Holmstad, and have thus far been unable to identify where the bacteria came from. The retirement home is notifying residents and their identified contact, NBC said.
Second Legionnaires Death Linked to Bulgarian Hotel
August 23, 2019 – Another man has reportedly died from complications of Legionnaires disease he may have contracted during a vacation to Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach Resort, according to UPI. The victim, 75-year-old Bryan Taylor, died in mid-July after returning to Britain. Investigators have narrowed the likely source of transmission of Legionella to the hotel the two stayed at.
Jet2 Sued by Family of Man who Died from Legionnaires in Bulgaria
August 24, 2019 – The family of a British man who allegedly died from a heart attack on June 19 after contracting Legionnaires disease while on vacation in Bulgaria has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jet2, according to The Sun. John Cowan, who would have turned 44 this week, died after falling ill at the Hotel Kalofer in Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach Resort on the Black Sea. After getting few answers and no additional information on the death of their loved one, John’s family filed the civil claim against Jet2, when it was revealed that at least 4 others at the same hotel may have been struck down with the same infection.
“Neither Jet2 nor the hotel have helped us at all,” said John’s brother, Barry. “It’s like they’re just trying to hush it all up rather than help a bereaved family.”
Legionnaires Outbreak at Atlanta Hotel is Worst in Georgia History
August 12, 2019 – An outbreak of Legionnaires disease linked to the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel is now the largest outbreak of the infection ever recorded in the state of Georgia, according to CNN. The first lawsuit over the incident was filed on Monday against the hotel on behalf of a man who visited the Sheraton Atlanta during the outbreak. CNN says law firms are representing at least 40 people alleging damages against the hotel.
Death Reported in Atlanta Legionnaires Outbreak
August 7, 2019 – One person has died from complications of Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Sheraton Atlanta, according to CNN. At least 11 other guests of the prominent hotel have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’, while another 61 probable cases have been identified, said Nancy Nydam, director of communications at Georgia Department of Public Health. “Probable cases” are people who have symptoms of a disease, but have not had it properly diagnosed.
10th Case of Legionnaires Linked to Atlanta Sheraton
July 25, 2019 – The Georgia Department of Health has confirmed a 10th case of Legionnaires disease in guests who recently stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta, up 5 cases from this time last week, according to KTVZ. Even though the outbreak was first identified nearly 2 weeks ago, health officials have still not determined the source of the bacteria. officials said the hotel would remain closed through at least Aug. 11 as they continue trying to find the source of contamination.
5 Cases of Legionnaires Reported in Atlanta Hotel
July 17, 2019 – At least 5 guests who stayed at a prominent Atlanta hotel have developed symptoms of Legionnaires disease, prompting an investigation of the hotel, according to CNN.
“Based on epidemiological evidence we have an outbreak among people who stayed at the [Sheraton Atlanta] during the same time period,” said Nancy Nydam, director of communications at Georgia Department of Public Health, on Tuesday.
The hotel has voluntarily shuttered its doors until the source of infection is found and remediation is complete, Nydam said. More than 400 guests have been relocated to nearby hotels.
Health Officials Investigating Legionnaires Outbreak in Ohio
July 2, 2019 – The Delaware County Health Department is investigating an outbreak of Legionnaires disease at the Country-View of Sunbury Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Ohio, according to ABC 6 WSYX. Officials launched the probe over the weekend after lab results confirmed one resident contracted a case of Legionnaires there. The patient was reviewed as part of the Delaware County General Health District’s investigation.
“We did our follow-up and identified the person was a resident at the long-term care facility, with no other travel history,” said county epidemiologist Travis Irvan. “The facility takes very seriously the health and safety of our residents and staff. We are working…to ascertain if Legionella bacteria is within our facility, and have taken every precaution to protect residents and staff while the testing and remediation is underway.”
Legionella Bacteria Found at Ford Plant in Michigan
June 17, 2019 – Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday announced that low levels of Legionella bacteria, the pathogen that causes Legionnaires disease, had been found at its plant in Dearborn, Michigan, according to CBS News. Media reports published earlier in the day suggested that Ford had informed workers about the problem via letter, which the automaker later confirmed.
“We immediately disinfected the equipment where the bacteria were found,” a Ford spokesperson said. “The level of Legionella detected in our recent sampling is very low and does not present a health risk to our workforce. We are not aware of any employees that have contracted the bacteria.”
Ohio Hospital Sued by 2 Patients Who Got Legionnaires
June 17, 2019 – 2 people who claim they developed symptoms of Legionnaires at a new hospital in Ohio have filed a lawsuit against the facility and its healthcare system, according to the Sentinel-Tribune. Plaintiffs Martin and Rebecca Brown of Orient, Ohio, sued Mount Carmel Grove City in Franklin County on Tuesday, and Anna Hillis of Grove City filed suit Friday. At least 16 people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires since the outbreak first made news 2 weeks ago. A 75-year-old woman died from complications of the disease, authorities said.
8 New Cases of Legionnaires Reported in Florida
June 6, 2019 – At least 8 new cases of Legionnaires disease have been reported in Duval County, Florida, bringing the statewide total to at least 144 cases since the beginning of the year, according to WJXT 4 Jacksonville.
From June 1, 2018, to present, those numbers are significantly higher — 33 cases in Duval County and 480 cases total in Florida. Duval County health authorities are still uncertain as to the source of the Legionella bacteria, or whether the outbreak is contained to a particular facility or area of the city.
Ohio Hospital Confirms 7 Cases of Legionnaires
June 3, 2019 – At least 7 cases of Legionnaires have been confirmed in patients treated at Mount Carmel Hospital in Grove City, Ohio, according to CBS affiliate WBNS-TV.
The facility is partnering with the U.S. CDC, Franklin County Public Health, and the Ohio Department of Health to determine the source of the bacteria. They will continue testing over the next few weeks.
“To protect patients, employees, and visitors, we have acted swiftly today after my team unraveled a connection between three confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in former patients at Mount Carmel Grove City,” said Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton. “Working in collaboration with Franklin County Public Health, I issued an adjudication order to immediately reduce the risk of further infection.”
The adjudication specified the following protocol for preventing spread of Legionnaires at Mount Carmel Hospital:
- Flush all hot and cold water lines and fixtures throughout the entire seven-floor, 200-bed facility
- Implement immediate remediation practices to disinfect hot and cold water lines and fixtures
- Test and clean all ice machines
- Ensure the two on-sight cooling towers are cleaned and serviced
- Provide any and all test results to the Ohio Department of Health
- Provide water management plan to the Ohio Department of Health
Acton said that while the risk of developing Legionnaires is low in most healthy people, individuals with chronic, underlying medical conditions are at increased risk. Health authorities are asking anyone who has been hospitalized and developed a cough, muscle aches, headaches, fever, chills or shortness of breath to consult their physician immediately.
New Legionnaires Outbreak Reported in Chicago
May 7, 2019 – Health authorities are investigating a new outbreak involving at least 2 cases of Legionnaires’ disease among patients at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UChicago Medicine), according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
News of the recent cases follows 2 other confirmed cases of Legionnaires last week at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, the Sun-Times reports. Both facilities said they are cooperating with ongoing investigations to determine the source of the illnesses.
Both patients who were most recently diagnosed with Legionnaires had previously been treated at other facilities, health officials said.
Water testing at UChicago Medicine showed no signs of Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires, in the facility’s water supply, a UCMC spokesperson told the Sun-Times.
Both local and state health officials visited UCMC this week to help investigate the source of the outbreak. The investigation is limited to the hospital and there is no risk to the public, the state’s public health department said.
“We are confident all our patients are safe,” the spokesperson said. “To be clear, these patients were in our facilities for only a portion of their risk period, and none of our water tests has revealed Legionella.”
3 Test Positive for Legionnaires Disease at Wisconsin Resort
March 26, 2019 – 3 people in Wisconsin who went to the same resort have been diagnosed with Legionnaires disease, according to WKOW.
Legionella pneumophila, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires, has been found in parts of the water system at the popular Christmas Mountain resort near Wisconsin Dells. The Sauk County Health Department confirmed presence of the bacteria on Monday.
A spokesperson for Bluegreen Communications, the company that owns Christmas Mountain, said they have “implemented a recommended risk reduction measure in addition to ongoing water management and remediation,” and that all accommodations at the resort are now equipped with “point of use” filters, which effectively eliminate 99% of exposure to Legionella.
“It was our understanding (via the health department) that there have been multiple cases reported across the region, in which only three cases reported to the health department are from guests that have stayed at the property within the last 24 months,” the Bluegreen spokesperson said. “There is no conclusive evidence that they contracted the Legionella bacteria during their stay at the property.”
Hayes said officials at the resort were fully cooperating with the health department. Health officials were requiring the resort to notify guests when they make a reservation to be aware of the risks, as well as informing them of the risks and symptoms of the disease upon check in.
Legionnaires Outbreak Linked to Minnesota Hotel Spa
February 19, 2019 – The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has narrowed down a cluster of at least 4 cases of Legionnaires disease to a hotel spa in northwestern Minnesota. Hotel management has temporarily closed the pool and spa pending results of the investigation. The health department said on Friday that the 4 patients experienced onset of symptoms between Jan. 22 and Jan. 27, after visiting the Crookston Inn and Convention Center, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. None of the ill were overnight guests at the hotel, but all had visited the establishment.
Investigators are working with the hotel to determine the source of the legionella bacteria. However, preliminary evidence points to the hotel’s spa, as artificial water systems provide environments conducive to the growth and dissemination of the bacteria.
Management at the Crookston Inn has temporarily closed the spa and pool to guests. The hotel is notifying guests who visited between Jan. 14 and Feb. 13 that they may have been exposed to Legionnaires, and to watch closely for symptoms and consult a physician immediately should any appear.
Most people who are exposed to Legionella bacteria do not go on to develop full-blown Legionnaires’ disease, according to the MDH press release.
Legionnaires Disease Rocks Illinois Veterans Home
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) is reporting that a number of residents at a facility in Manteno have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. An IDVA spokesperson said the strict quarantine protocol enacted by the veterans home was taken out of an abundance of caution, as Illinois law only requires this procedure when at least 2 cases of Legionnaires’ have been suspected.
After the 2015 Legionnaires outbreak at the Quincy Veterans Home that killed 13 U.S. military veterans, IDVA implemented a stricter contingency plan. Manteno has a staff of 294 skilled care and special-needs medical professionals on staff across a 122-acre campus that houses particularly enfeebled veterans with compromised immune systems.
Officials at IDVA have also developed an “active water management program” at the 33-year-old facility to handle the situation, and medical checks on residents will be upped to every 4 hours.
The key at this point is to determine where the bacteria came from, and protect the home’s residents and staff, according to officials.
1 Dead, 10 Sick in Legionnaires Outbreak at Wisconsin Hospital
December 20, 2018 – One person died and at least 10 others developed symptoms of Legionnaires disease at UW Health University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. The Director of Infection Control there says the outbreak is related to a reduction in water-flow at the facility during times of low usage.
Source of New York Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Identified
August 15, 2018 – One person died and at least 10 others developed symptoms of Legionnaires disease at UW Health University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. The Director of Infection Control there says the outbreak is related to a reduction in water-flow at the facility during times of low usage.
UW officials said on Friday that 4 of the patients remained hospitalized, while 6 were discharged or treated for Legionnaires at local outpatient facilities. One patient diagnosed with the infection at UW has subsequently died from complications, according to NBC 15.
Dr. Nasia Safdar, Medical Director of Infection Control at UW Hospital, said the Legionnaires outbreak appears to be linked to a recent decision to reduce water flow at the facility during low-demand times, which can make the system more susceptible to bacterial pathogens. Regular flow has resumed since the infections were diagnosed, according to Safdar.
Additional cases of Legionnaires could be found by Wednesday, the day the incubation period officially ends, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Last week, UW Health University Hospital chlorinated its water system for the first time. The hospital is working with health officials to test the water and ensure it’s safe.
Legionnaires Outbreak Reported in New Hampshire
August 27, 2018 – At least 4 people have developed case-confirmed symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease in Hampton, New Hampshire, health officials said, with additional cases likely.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) said the victims contracted Legionnaires’ near Ashworth Avenue between Island Path and H Street in Hampton during the late part of July or early this month.
“Most of the time, people that develop this infection acquire it just from the natural environment because it’s widespread in water and moist soil,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire state epidemiologist.
Officials are still working to determine the source of the infection, according to WMUR News 9. Since 2013, New Hampshire has averaged about 32 cases per year of Legionnaires’ disease, Chan said, but seeing a full-blown outbreak is rare.
“We have not investigated a cluster … in the last 10 to 15 years,” Chan said.
Out of an abundance of caution, officials are advising people over 50, current or former smokers, those with lung disease, or those with weakened immune systems to consider avoiding the area of Ashworth Avenue between Island Path and H Street in Hampton.
Legionnaires’ Disease Cases Up in Michigan With Warmer Weather
July 10, 2018 – Legionella-related illnesses are on the rise in Michigan, state health officials are warning, due largely to the record high temperatures being reported across the state. Michigan has seen a nearly 30% increase this year in the number of patients diagnosed with legionellosis, which includes Legionnaires’ disease and the milder Pontiac fever, compared with this time last year, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
MDHHS reported a total of 139 confirmed cases from Jan. 1 to July 6 in 33 Michigan counties, according to the Detroit Free Press. This compares with 107 cases by July 6 of last year. And it’s nearly double the number of total cases of legionnaires’ reported during the same time period 2 years ago, when 79 people fell ill with legionellosis.
MDHHS spokeswoman Lynn Suftin said the increased rates don’t constitute an outbreak of legionella, and noted the statewide numbers are consistent with trends across the U.S.
“The incidence of Legionnaires’ disease is increasing both nationally and in Michigan in a similar trend line,” she said. “However, the incidence of disease in Michigan remains consistently higher than the national average.”
The reason, according to Suftin? Easy. The hotter than normal conditions this summer.
“Michigan and the rest of the country are experiencing long stretches of hot, humid weather,” she said. “Warm, stagnant waters present the best environment for bacterial growth.”
Illinois Veterans Home Struck by Legionnaires’ Outbreak Gets $4.1 Million
June 29, 2018 – The federal government is gifting Illinois $4.1 million to renovate a veterans home where a 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease claimed the lives of 13 people. Illinois Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth say the money, which will be taken from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will be used to upgrade the facility’s water system and other infrastructure, according to WQAD 8.
Durbin says the gift will provide a “needed boost,” but that “there is much more work to be done.”
Illinois health officials have struggled to contain the Legionnaires’ outbreak since the first deaths were reported at the Quincy veterans home in 2015.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed a $245 million overhaul which would consist of replacing corroded plumbing and rebuilding the facility. Lawmakers approved a state budget last month that includes $53 million for the project.
Yale Study Finds Legionella Bacteria Increased Near Watersheds, Drainage Basins
January 25, 2018 – A new study by the Yale School of Public Health links watersheds and drainage basins to an increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease. An analysis of nearly 2 decades of studies by lead author Kelsie Cassell, M.P.H., found that elevated rainfall and greater streamflow were linked to an increased incidence of Legionnaires.
For the study, Cassell and her colleagues looked at cases of non-outbreak legionellosis requiring hospitalization from 1999 to 2015. They found 2 regional watersheds, the Naugatuck and Quinebaug, showed a higher incidence of disease compared to the statewide average.
The researchers also found an increased rate of Legionnaires’ among people who lived near 4 rivers. Those living within 10 miles of the Quinebaug River and the Hockanum Brook had the highest increased risk of the illness, according to the study.
Natural reservoirs were also found to have a greater affect on the development of sporadic legionellosis, a respiratory disease caused by Legionella bacteria, than previously estimated.
“Our findings demonstrate that the natural environment could have a greater role in influencing the risk of disease than previously thought,” Cassell said.
The study was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Illinois Veterans’ Home Sued After Deadly Legionnaires Outbreak
January 4, 2018 – The families of 11 U.S. veterans who died due to complications of Legionnaires disease at an Illinois nursing home are suing the facility for negligence.
Since July 2015, Legionnaires disease has claimed the lives of 13 residents of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, Ill., and sickened another 61, according to an investigation by the Chicago public radio station WBEZ.
Legionnaires can be effectively treated with antibiotics and prompt diagnosis, which is what employees at the state-run facility failed to do, according to the lawsuits.
“When’s it going to stop?” said Jana Casper, daughter of one of the deceased nursing home residents. “How many more people are going to have to die before they can get to the bottom of what’s causing it?”
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has also called the Legionnaires’ outbreak a “scandal,” and said officials should close the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy until its water system is found to be safe.
The Illinois outbreak is just one among dozens that have plagued the nursing industry in recent years. The CDC in 2017 singled out skilled nursing facilities as potentially prime breeding grounds for Legionnaires’ disease.
CDC analyzed data from 2015 which was related to outbreaks of Legionnaires’, looking at a total of nearly 3,000 cases from 20 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, 85 were “definitely” related to exposure at health care facilities, with an additional 468 instances that were “possibly” related to stays in nursing facilities, hospitals, or other institutions, according to the agency.
1 Dead, 20 Infected in Legionnaires’ Outbreak in Spain
December 19, 2017 – An outbreak of Legionnaires disease on the Spanish island of Majorca that claimed the life of a British tourist and infected at least 19 other vacationers has been linked to a hotel Jacuzzi. A 70-year-old British man died in mid-October at a hospital in the island capital Palma after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’, according to health officials.
Health officials on Majorca revealed that they had determined the source of the Legionnaires’ outbreak in a statement in which they also announced the investigation was closed, according to the Daily Express.
Positive samples were taken from a hotel in Palmanova where several of those diagnosed with Legionnaires’ were staying, officials said.
“From October 4 to November 16 we were informed of 27 cases of legionnaires’ disease linked to a particular area of Palmanova,” the regional health authority said in a statement. “The people affected included 26 foreign tourists who had stayed in hotels in the resort, 20 of whom were from the UK.”
The hotel closed before news of the infections were made public, after its water supply was shut down. It was not clear at the time whether the Jacuzzi belonged to the hotel that closed down or not, as health officials have not named the establishment.
Legionnaires’ Outbreak at Disneyland Forces Emergency Closure of 2 Cooling Towers
November 13, 2017 – Disneyland has temporarily closed down 2 water cooling towers at its park in Anaheim, California, after at least 9 visitors there developed symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease. The patients ranged in age from 52 to 94, lived in or had visited Anaheim, and went to Disneyland in September. One patient, a 94-year-old woman who hadn’t visited the park, died since contracting the disease, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
There haven’t been any new cases of Legionnaires’ linked to Disneyland since September, the agency said.
“There is no known ongoing risk associated with this outbreak,” the agency said.
Legionnaires’ Outbreak Reported in New York Nursing Home
November 3, 2017 – Health officials have confirmed at least 2 cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the Sky View Rehabilitation and Health Care nursing home in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. One of the patients, a 96-year-old woman, died as a result of her complications, according to ABC News.
The source of contamination at the nursing home is still unclear, but authorities have ruled out the cooling towers as the site, according to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
The New York State Department of Health is investigating the cause of the outbreak, which was first identified this summer when a water sample tested positive for Legionella bacteria. Subsequent tests have come back negative, according to ABC News.
In the wake of the outbreak, Sky View has hired a remediation company to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Sixth Case of Legionnaires’ Disease Confirmed at Texas Hotel
October 13, 2017 – Texas health authorities have identified at least 6 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in guests who stayed at a hotel in Round Rock. The most recent case occurred in a guest at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott, who reportedly became sick within the last 10 days and is currently in the hospital undergoing treatment for his symptoms.
Hotel Guest at Graceland Dies from Legionnaires
September 15, 2017 – A Kentucky woman has died from Legionnaires’ Disease just days after staying at the Graceland Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The woman who died, Linda “Gail” Godsey, was 62-years-old and stayed at the hotel in July.
An autopsy report filed with the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office lists “Legionella pneumonia (Legionnaires’ disease)” as the immediate cause of death, although earlier medical problems suffered by Godsey were “contributory.”
“She loved to adventure into new places and see news things and that was one of the things we decided to do,” said Godsey’s daughter Chrisandrea. “There`s a lot of history in that city and then we picked the Elvis Presley Entertainment Center because that was something, you know mom hadn’t been there and she was interested in seeing that.”
Godsey’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Guest House at Graceland, Elvis Presley Enterprises, owner of the hotel, and Pyramid Tennessee Management.
The $92 million, 450-room Guest House at 3600 Elvis Presley Boulevard opened last October. Department officials announced the outbreak in June and said it appeared to be linked to the hot tub and pool at the hotel, which opened last October.
Legionnaires’ Disease Found at Ohio Prison Hospital
July 6, 2017 – Two inmates at a prison hospital in Ohio have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The 2 cases of Legionnaires’ caused the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, to cut off use of its tap water and install new faucets and filters, according to FOX 8. Prison officials said that environmental tests have been conducted in hopes of finding the source of the illnesses at the facility.
Franklin Medical Center houses close to 600 inmates who need medical and long-term care, some who may be more susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease. The prison also handles pregnant inmates.
A notice sent by the prison’s warden last week after the 2nd case was confirmed said inmates were not to use the showers and advised against drinking the water. A separate section of the prison wasn’t affected by the regulations.
Bottled water was being handed out to inmates and the prison’s 500 staff members. Most of the faucets and showers are now safe to use after new filters were installed, according to an internal memo sent last week.
Some of the faucets will require special fittings and still were not safe to use, the notice said.
New York City Legionnaires’ Outbreak Kills 1, Sickens 6
June 20, 2017 – At least one person is dead and another 6 have fallen seriously ill in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York.
The patients with Legionnaires’ all became sick within the past 2 weeks in Lenox Hill, an affluent neighborhood in Manhattan, according to The New York Times.
As of Friday, 4 of the patients remained hospitalized, and 2 had recovered and been released. The deceased was over 90, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and had from other health problems.
DOHMH is investigating air-conditioning equipment in Lenox Hill, looking for signs of Legionella, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease.
“We know that this is an organism that exists in our environment, and we don’t expect to be able to eradicate it,” said health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “From a public health point of view, we want to be able to get a handle on clusters that may have a common source, but we hardly ever are able to identify them.”
The health department has inspected all cooling systems within about a half mile of the affected area, 116 in total, Bassett said. However, results of the investigation may take up to 2 weeks while the bacteria is cultured in a lab.
About 6,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported in the U.S. in 2015, according to the CDC. However, this number is likely much smaller than the true number of incidences, as Legionnaires’ tends to be under-diagnosed. CDC reports that about one out of every 10 people who contracts the disease will die from resulting complications.
Legionnaires’ Outbreaks Up 450%, CDC Study Finds
June 16, 2017 – Cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been skyrocketing across the U.S. in recent years, with a more than 450% increase since 2002, according to a new study from the CDC.
The study found that outbreaks of Legionnaires’ have been on the rise since 2000, noting several new cases over the last few weeks alone.
CDC found that there are currently about 6,000 new diagnoses of Legionnaires’ annually in the U.S., and that rates of the disease are up a staggering 450% since 2002. The study’s authors cautioned that a percentage of the increase is likely due to advanced diagnostic techniques and monitoring by hospitals.
Legionnaires Confirmed at Florida Retirement Home
June 15, 2017 – The Duval County Health Department has confirmed a case of Legionnaires’ disease at a senior living center in Jacksonville, Florida.
The case of Legionnaires’ was reported at Watercrest Senior Living on San Jose Boulevard in Jacksonville, according to ClickOrlando.
Watercrest spokeswoman Susie Wiles said it’s unclear where the patient contracted the disease, due to the fact that legionella, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease, can remain latent in a person’s body for months or even years. She said he started showing symptoms Friday, but nobody else at the facility has reported any symptoms.
Residents at Watercrest Senior Living facility who are having symptoms of Legionnaires’ should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
Because only one person has tested positive to date, the case does not meet the CDC’s definition of a Legionnaires’ outbreak.
Legionnaires Outbreak Reported in Florida LA Fitness Clubs
June 13, 2017 – Two LA Fitness health clubs in Florida are being investigated following reports of at least 4 customers developing Legionnaires’ disease after exercising at the gyms. Two of the cases are linked to the LA Fitness club in MetroWest at 4792 Kirkman Road, Florida, and the other 2 were reported at 12700 S. Orange Blossom Trail, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The Florida Department of Health dispatched officials to the club to take water samples on Friday, but results won’t be available for about 2 weeks. It hasn’t been determined for certain whether the patients contracted Legionnaires’ at LA Fitness, but all 4 had exercised at the facilities prior to becoming ill. Investigators are not aware of any other commonalities in the cases.
LA Fitness has sent notices to customers at the 2 locations, warning them to watch out for symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, which include headache, muscle pain, chills, and fever that may reach as high as 104 F.
Because of the potential for legionella contamination, the 2 LA Fitness health clubs are being asked to use elevated levels of chlorine in spa areas and use extra filters on showers.
News of the Florida cases follows a number of other Legionnaires’ outbreaks reported across the U.S. Legionella was found in a New York City police precinct where an officer was hospitalized with symptoms of the disease. Last week, the Southern Nevada Health District announced it is investigating 2 cases of Legionnaires’ in guests who stayed separately at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
2 Sickened with Legionnaires’ Disease at Las Vegas Hotel
June 12, 2017 – Two recent guests at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, according to CNN. The Rio is disinfecting the system with chlorine and has relocated guests to rooms serviced by different water systems; guests who stayed at the hotel more than 2 weeks ago and have not developed symptoms are not at risk for the disease.
The guests who developed Legionnaires’ stayed separately in March and April at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
Legionella was found in the hot-water system of one of the hotel’s towers after the second illness was reported late last month.
Can I File a Class Action?
Our lawyers have decided against entering into a class action lawsuit involving allegations of Legionnaires’ disease injuries against responsible parties. It has been our experience that individual lawsuits in this type of litigation are far more beneficial to the client in the long-run, both in terms of potential compensation for damages, as well as lower attorney fees and greater control over your own case. Contact us today if you feel you may have a case.
Do I Have a Legionnaires’ Disease Lawsuit?
The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Legionnaires’ disease lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you developed Legionnaires’ disease, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.