PHILADELPHIA, PA (December 13, 2012) – John Ciarolla passed away in July of 2011 after acquiring Legionnaire’s disease. His survivors have retained Jules Zacher, Esq., and are pursuing legal action against the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System for the role it may have played in his death. Mr. Ciarolla had been a resident of a long-term healthcare facility run by the VA and had also spent time at the VA’s University Drive hospital.
According to media reports, news of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Pittsburgh VA hospital on University Drive broke last month. There are currently five confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, and three deaths connected with the outbreak, including that of Mr. Ciarolla. According to the VA, since January, 2011, there were 8 other patients at the VA who had Legionnaires’ disease that they acquired from sources other than the hospital, but also 16 more cases in which the source was unknown. News sources cite maintenance issues associated with the hospital’s water treatment system, but the investigation is ongoing.
The Ciarolla family was initially told that John Ciarolla’s contraction of Legionnaires’ disease was connected to visits he made to his daughters’ homes. However, with reports of recent cases of Legionnaires’ disease and long-term maintenance issues, this scenario becomes less likely. Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are preventable with proper maintenance and water treatment procedures are in place.
The CDC states that Legionnaires’ disease afflicts 8,000 to 18,000 people each year, and is fatal in 5% to 30% of cases. It was first discovered in 1976 when an outbreak at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sickened over 200 people, of whom 34 died.