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This office has had numerous inquiries regarding persons contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Often times the person does not know where they acquired the disease. Unfortunately, many times the person acquired the disease from a cooling tower. The cooling tower need not be in the vicinity of the person who acquired the disease,  or  even have been identified by health authorities. Consequently, the person may not know that a cooling tower has caused him or her to get sick. These cases are considered sporadic in nature. On the other hand, when a cooling tower has been identified as the source, as in the outbreak in the Bronx at the Opera House Hotel, legal help can be given. A cooling tower is identified as the source when the health authority having jurisdiction over the tower samples the environmental biofilm (the sludge at the bottom of the tower) with the results from testing the patient in the hospital for Legionnaires’ disease. If there is a match,  the health authority can then state that a particular tower was the source of the outbreak. It is up to your legal team to then determine why the cooling tower was the source. Records for the tower are examined to determine if the tower was properly maintained. These records will show how frequently the tower was cleaned among other things. There are standards in the industry, as well as legislative standards in the State of New York, to determine the appropriate way the towers should have been maintained. The cases that this office has been involved in unfortunately show that the towers were not properly maintained, which in turn caused the buildup of legionella in the tower. Because of the buildup of legioenlla from the poor maintenance, the legionella bacteria causing Legionnaires’ disease is transmitted to an unsuspecting person (see previous blog of October 11, 2108 “Osthoff Resort and Cooling Towers”). National legislation regulating cooling towers similar to that of  New York (see previous blog of October 17, 2018 “New York State Regulation of Legionella-A Real Step Forward”) should be passed as soon as possible. No longer should someone suffer from an unknown, or known, cooling tower.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:00 am

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