Apr
09
2018
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In a previous post, we discussed an introduction to water system maintenance. More detailed resources, however, can clearly be of great assistance in situations like this. As such, the CDC actually provides a great page to review other significant guidelines and standards that may be applicable.

Resources on the page include everything from ASHRAE to the Cooling Tower Institute however what’s also of interest is that the page provides links to more healthcare-specific guidelines including those from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as well as, of course, the CDC’s own guidelines on both matters.

Here are some of the more standard and general guidelines the page includes and be sure to review the full page for more information;

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 9:44 pm
Apr
08
2018
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About a month ago, Transparency Market Research estimated that the global legionella testing market was valued at US$180 million in 2016. In addition, Transparency Market Research also estimated that the testing market would reach around US$398.7 million by 2025. Perhaps one of the biggest factors for future growth moving forward is that the incidence rate is increasing globally, particularly in developing regions. With this higher incidence of infectious diseases comes a steady increase in the demand for diagnostic kits and with it the global legionella testing market is expected to substantially grow.

As it stands now, the incidence rate of infectious diseases is relatively minimal within developed countries however transmission of diseases across regions through migration is increasing which will in turn fuel demand for diagnostic tests and kits across the globe. Increasing healthcare spending is also expected to increase demand for better legionella testing and diagnostic methods. The increase in the cost of treatment, lack of reimbursement policies for legionella testing within developing regions, and the side effects associated with legionella treatment are still restraining the growth of the legionella testing market.

The report also notes that the presence of several key players has led to a dominance of the region. In addition, the relatively supportive stance of many European countries such as the UK, France, and Germany towards legionella testing research has allowed the countries to gain an important place in the global legionella testing market. In regards to the Asia Pacific and Latin America, awareness about accessible healthcare has led to early diagnosis along with a rise in investments into the healthcare sector.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 9:26 am
Apr
05
2018
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Assessing plumbing systems can sometime feel like a task which you are going to be inherently blind in. After all, regular testing is important however pinpointing the exact location of clusters can often be difficult. Luckily, there appears to be a new model which may help public health authorities assess water quality.

According to one of the co-authors and civil and environmental engineering professor Wen-Tso Liu, “(P)revious studies have relied on reproducing the conditions of a stagnant plumbing system within a lab setting,” however for this study, the team was “able to collect samples in a real-life situation.”

The team collected water samples from three University of Illinois dormitory buildings while they were closed during a school break. They then took samples from sink taps before the building closure, i.e. while the water was relatively fresh from the city supply, and again after the water stagnated within the interior plumbing for a week.

The lab results suggested that the post-stagnation samples closest to the actual taps actually contained the highest levels of bacteria. In addition, the team also found that bacteria concentrations decreased significantly as one moved away from a tap. Before moving forward, it is important to note that none of the samples contained cells concentrations that present a public health risk.

These results, according to Mr. Liu, “suggest that the increase in bacteria in the post-stagnation samples is a result of something occurring in the interior plumbing, not the outside city source, and in pipe segments closest to the taps,”.

On a more practical level, the model allows a useful tool for public health officials. According to Liu, “We only need two samples – one before stagnation and one after – and we can determine how extensive the microbe growth is inside in-premise pipes, and we can now do so without destroying property,”.

Another interesting finding was that bacterial concentrations are the highest within the first 100 milliliters of tap flow. As such, Mr. Liu recommends people run taps for a little after being away from home for awhile.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:00 am
Apr
04
2018
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A preliminary report released yesterday suggests that a substantial upgrade of the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy is the best route for resolving the Legionella issues there. This makeover, however, is estimated to cost as much as $278 million. The report describes a brand new residence with new plumbing and a well to serve as a separate water source. This report by the task forces which the governor had organized says the new facility would not only include Legionnaires’-resistant piping, but could be built to adapt to the changing needs of veterans moving forward. A final report is expected on May 1.

Clearly the outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy has been a long running tragedy including the deaths of 13 residents and with dozens more becoming ill at the facilities. The administration has so far installed a $6.4 million water treatment plant along with regular disinfection, flushing and filtering, however cases of Legionnaires’ disease continue to regularly come forward.

The price tag of nearly $300 million includes features like new plumbing, which could cost up to $15.6 million, or drilling a well to use as that alternative water source could be close to $5.5 million. The other issue is temporary housing for the current residents, which would involve buying and renovating a nursing home which could be around $6.8 million.

While the prices are steep, as it stands currently, experts are stating that portions of the home’s plumbing are now ideal for the growth of Legionella bacteria. Including a well in the new remodel would also allow the home to eliminate their dependence on the city supply which currently comes from the Mississippi River; a river who’s warmer temperatures allow it to be more bacteria-friendly.

While the prices projected by the renovations may sound high, the report is also quick to note that there was a total of $119 million worth of deferred maintenance at Quincy as well as other veteran homes like LaSalle, Manteno, and Anna. This is all on top of the additional expenses involved with the construction of the new home in Chicago which is scheduled to open in 2019.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

 

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 9:57 am
Apr
03
2018
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A Dallas senior living community was required to treat the water in two of their buildings after the country health department detected a case of Legionnaires’ disease. Mr Jeff Getek, Highland Spring Senior Living spokesman, has said that the retirement community was initially notified of the positive Legionnaires’ disease test by the Collin County Department of Health.

In addition, Mr. Getek also added that this was an “isolated situation,” with no other residents at the Far North Dallas community having reported symptoms. One of the residential buildings where the resident with Legionnaires lives will have water restriction until the health department gives approval. The two buildings will also have their hot water systems disinfected with a hyper-chlorination technique.

In the meantime, residents have been provided bottled water for cooking and drink and filters have been installed so residents can still shower, according to Mr. Getek.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:02 pm
Apr
02
2018
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Over the course of the past few weeks, we have covered cooling towers and how they can serve as potential breeding grounds for Legionella bacteria. This appears to be the case in Long Island as a school district there announced that Legionella bacteria was found in the cooling towers at three of their schools.

According to the Sachem Central School District at Holbrook’s superintendent, James Nolan, the bacteria was detected in the cooling towers at Seneca, Sequoya and East schools after conducting scheduled testing in order to be in compliance with New York state regulations.

Once discovered, the cooling towers were immediately shut off with the disinfection being scheduled at the moment. Once complete, there will be monitoring of the cooling towers including retesting. Superintendent Nolan also noted that there are currently no reports of Legionnaires’ disease from any of the faculty, visitors, students, and/or staff associated with the buildings.

This incident is on top of a separate incident, when the Smithtown Central School District stated that cooling towers at the Smithtown East and West high schools had tested positive for Legionella bacteria. Like this discovery, the cooling towers in this previous discovery were brought offline and decontaminated after being found.

Clearly finding Legionella bacteria at schools is not exactly comforting however this particular example may actually be evidence of the importance and positive impact routine testing can make. Indeed if the testing had never been done, then the disinfection would have never occurred and the bacteria would have simply continued to remain within the cooling towers, potentially causing individuals associated with the school to contract Legionnaires’ disease.

As such, what this particular story may also be highlighting is a separate question; how often should testing occur? With the use of various new technologies and even the potential for smart buildings to do the testing, it is imaginable to foresee testing becoming a far more regular aspect of water system management, a prospect which may end up making everyone that much safer.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:57 am
Mar
29
2018
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Rubber ducks are a classic component of the stereotypical bath and have made an impact on numerous individual’s lives. Yet with its constant presence in our bathing rituals and lives, an uncomfortable subject may inadvertently emerge; how clean/safe is this object. According to a study by American and Swiss researchers, toy ducks appear to be a breeding ground for microbes and bacteria like Legionella. In the study, water released from four out of every five ducks found Legionella along with other Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, a fairly disturbing frequency.

The study, which was conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH Zurich and the University of Illinois, was published this past Tuesday in the journal N.P.J. Biofilms and Microbiomes and featured researchers testing a range of bath toys. With the rubber ducks, they found 75 million cells of bacteria per square centimeter — a high level that scientists say was the result of their polymer material releasing carbon.

The researchers suggest that using higher-quality polymer to make rubber ducks might prevent bacterial growth. The study received funding from the Swiss government and is part of a broader research project examining bacteria and household objects.

Now that level of 75 million cells of bacteria per square centimeter is a disturbing level however compared to a kitchen sponge or even a cell phone, it is not actually that high. Even so, the results are a bit nerve racking mainly because rubber ducks represent such a pivotal object of affection for many children; as such, any potential suggestions towards safety, such as using a higher-quality polymer, should at least be considered.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 12:40 pm
Mar
27
2018
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On Sunday, March 25th, it was reported that a Maine Maritime Academy graduate had won $310,000 in a lawsuit over Legionnaires’ disease which they contracted during their summer internship with LaBorde Marine Management LLC of New Orleans while aboard an offshore vessel in August 2013. The federal judge in the case awarded the graduate $150,000 for lost wages, another $150,000 for pain and suffering, as well as $10,000 for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle concluded that LaBorde Marine Management LLC of New Orleans was negligent in keeping the intern safe from Legionnaires’ disease however found no credible evidence that the company had moved from ordinary negligence to wanton misconduct. As such, U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle denied the plaintiff’s demand for punitive damages.

According to the case, the graduate apparently contracted the disease while cleaning a refrigerator drain. Apparently the intern did not receive proper safety methods, according to court documents. Once the disease had been contracted, the graduate ended up being hospitalized for a month and requiring a year for the intern to eventually return to school. As such, they ended up graduating from the Maine Maritime Academy in 2015, a year later than other classmates.

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Michael Savasuk of Portland, the judgment is in fact “a landmark decision.”

“Just two cases have been reported outside of cruise vessels,” Mr. Savasuk said. “One was in Italy on a tank barge. The other was in Alaska on an offshore vessel. Other people will be able to use this case to pursue actions concerning legionella.”

This final point is perhaps the most important aspect of this case. Mr. Savasuk is correct to highlight that outside of cruise vessels, cases involving Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease on offshore vessels is fairly rare. As such, by having a ruling like this one, it may provide an additional resource and precedent for potential plaintiff’s to use in their own cases.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 9:55 am
Mar
26
2018
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Last week, researchers at the Technical University of Munich announced that they had developed a microarray rapid test which can detect Legionella in around 35 minutes. Now there is, in fact, a rapid test for detecting Legionella currently in clinics; urinalysis. But according to the head of the research group and the Chair of Analytical Chemistry and Water Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich PD Dr. Michael Seidel, the urinalysis test “serves only as a first indication and is not suitable for screening the water of technical systems,”.

The research is part of the “LegioTyper” project which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. These tests can not only detect Legionella pneumophila but can also identify the subtypes present. According to Dr. Seidel, the new method not only provides a huge speed advantage… but is also so cheap that we can use the chip in one-time applications.”

In addition, the tests, in combination with a second, DNA-based method, can distinguish between dead and living Legionella pathogens. The application of this second feature could ultimately mean that when disinfection methods need to be implemented, you can in fact monitor the process.

Now this page has covered several different testing methods in the past. Over all, this is simply done because it is exciting to see new research and testing methods coming forward. As such, it is great to see additional research and methods for testing coming out; indeed the more options that become available, the more flexibility can be provided to individuals in order to ensure the safety of the general public as a whole.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:06 am
Mar
22
2018
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Earlier this week, we wrote about Spartan Bioscience and how the company had partnered with the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to conduct a study examining cooling towers at federal government buildings. The results from the test were a bit negative as it was revealed that around 39% of the cooling towers had tested positive for Legionella bacteria at levels greater than 10 bacteria per milliliter while approximately 8% of the cooling towers tested positive for Legionella levels that were greater than 100 bacteria per milliliter.

Now, about a week later from when the initial results were revealed, the PSPC is coming forward and suggesting that the data used to come to these results may, in fact, be unreliable. Instead, PSPC is now relying on its own traditional testing methods, which in the study, had showed lower levels with the highest levels found never even reaching hazardous levels like what Spartan had indicated.

According to the assistant deputy minister of PSPC, Kevin Radford, “We support innovation through this Build In Canada Innovation Program, but that test procedure is innovative. It isn’t commercially available. It is meant to test the actual methodologies,” adding that the current PSPC’s testing methods “meet or exceed” any within North America.

PSPC was originally interested in Spartan for its fast technology, which can provide results in 45 minutes instead of days or even weeks. Once the study was complete, PSPC sent over Spartan’s report to Health Canada along with the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, both of which apparently suggested the technology needed more testing. In addition Radford added that there are measures in the rooftops in order to keep water vapour from leaving the cooling towers and going into air intakes. As such, they argue that while some towers may have bacteria like Legionella, it doesn’t mean that the bacteria will be in the building’s air.

Meanwhile the CEO of Spartan Bioscience, Paul Lem, suggested that his firm’s DNA testing is in fact better than what PSPC is using. According to Lem, “It is well known in the industry that legionella culture is a terrible test. It has very poor performance,” and that Spartan “showed in our study that all the bacteria are dying (on the way to the lab) 60 per cent of the time,”.

On this subject of the effectiveness of the Spartan Bioscience on-site tests and furthermore, the actual levels of Legionella bacteria in cooling towers around Canada’s federal government buildings, it appears clear as though Spartan and the PSPC disagree. Regardless of the details of the disagreement, hopefully individuals will at least review the cooling towers once more; indeed for there to be such disagreement from the results Spartan got to the ones PSPC warrants another examination in order to ensure no one is at risk.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:16 am