Jan
22
2018
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During this year’s CES conference, Site 1001, a company which specializes in artificial intelligence-run facilities management systems and previously spun off of JE Dunn Construction Co. showcased its artificial intelligence driven predictive maintenance system. Essentially, with any artificial intelligence driven facility, not only should the program be able to access information about every aspect of the building, but also be able to have the program automatically solve any problem which may arise on its own.

The way to do this, according to Site 1001, is through neural networks that copy how sentient creatures think. As such, one prominent example of this kind of predictive thinking in action was with Legionnaires’ disease. This example, shown at the conference, highlighted a devise that could not only automatically determine when conditions in water systems were conducive for legionella bacteria to form, but could also flush the building’s plumbing system with hot water to kill the bacteria. This IoT-driven infrastructure then would not only detect and clear legionella bacteria and others, but could also report back to the facilities manager everything that had just been done in order to keep individuals readily informed.

This kind of system would clearly be far better than traditional systems, whereby water samples would be taken manually and if not done, then reports of illnesses would be the only catalyst for responding. Yet it also serves to highlight how artificial intelligence can serve practical functions which would otherwise involve far more intensive responses to address, particularly with something like legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease.

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 9:51 am
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Jan
19
2018
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In June 2017, a guest who had stayed at the Guest House of Elvis Presley Enterprises’ (EPE) Graceland estate in Memphis, TN had passed away. Three months later, the widow and family members sued EPE, claiming that the victim had contracted Legionnaires’ disease from the estate’s hot tub and swimming pool. Now 7 months after that initial death, it is being reported that EPE is filing a separate lawsuit against two particular pool companies involved with the upkeep and maintenance of the hot tub and swimming pool.

Apparently officials with EPE are claiming in their own lawsuit that these two pool companies are at fault for the presence of the legionella bacteria and through either their equipment not functioning or not properly looking after these water features, should be held responsible. As such, they are hoping the companies will be held liable for any damages the victim’s family may win. The pool companies involved have already responded by asking for the lawsuit to be thrown out and furthermore, claim EPE and the Graceland estate didn’t maintain the sprinkler system properly which could have been the source of the legionella bacteria which may have entered the pool and/or hot tub.

There will obviously be much more discussion, debate, and litigation on this matter over the months and potentially years to come however this will certainly be a case that will be of interest to the broader public, both nationally and maybe even internationally.

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 2:56 pm
Jan
18
2018
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Over the course of 2014 and 2015, approximately a dozen people died from an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease during Flint’s water crisis. Now it appears as though some of the next steps regarding a potential prosecution are moving ahead. To start, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon is scheduled to restart his preliminary examination this Friday, Jan. 19 and is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter along with misconduct in office. This is significant because Lyon appears to be one of the state public health officials who was aware of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in the Flint area as well as the potential causes months before almost anyone else.

By next Monday, January 22nd, attorneys representing Darnell Earley, the former Flint emergency manger, are scheduled to return to District Court for a motion hearing and by the following week, January 29th, two Department of Health and Human Services employees are scheduled to undergo their preliminary examinations. There are additional potential prosecutions moving forward over the next month however overall, these developing stories have shown many that the search for answers regarding the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area and the water crisis as a whole is far from over.

Clearly there are still many unanswered questions regarding this case and furthermore, for fully understanding how such a tragedy can be assured to never happen again. That said, these developments do show that the determination to fully understand the causes of this outbreak is still strong and that hopefully, additionally answers can be provided to the public and those personally harmed over the weeks and months to come.

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 3:31 pm
Jan
17
2018
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In our previous post, we discussed first steps for institutions to take in order to develop an effective water management plan to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease. And while it is certainly true that Legionnaires’ disease can occur within larger buildings, including older structures with older pipes, there is also the potential to encounter Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease with outdoor activities, including through gardening.

There are a couple of reasons for this. As this site has discussed before, Legionella bacteria often forms in stagnant and standing pools of water, particularly when this water happens to be warm. When gardening and trying to clean up an outdoor vicinity, individuals may become exposed to this stagnant water, an exposure which may inadvertently expose the individual to the Legionella bacteria as well and ultimately, put them at risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease.

Beyond stagnant water potentially serving as an outlet for Legionella bacteria to form, there is also a risk associated with soil, compost, and potting mix. Indeed Legionella longbeachae from potting mix represents nearly half of reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease in New Zealand and Australia. As such, Mark Blaskovich, a researcher at the University of Queensland, recommends wearing a dust mask when handling potting soil or dampening soil to prevent dust that might potentially contain Legionella bacteria from being inhaled.

So as individuals begin to think through potential gardening plans for their yards, keeping this small bit of advice in mind can help reduce the risk of exposure and ultimately make the experience more enjoyable.

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 5:04 pm
Jan
16
2018
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The recent hearing regarding the outbreak of Legionnaires disease in Quincy, Illinois serves to further highlight the importance of not only a rapid response, but more importantly, a strong prevention strategy. Indeed according to the Center for Disease Control, 9 out of 10 Legionnaires’ disease cases could have been prevented, a staggering figure which emphasizes the importance of prevention. With this in mind, this post serves to provide a general overview of methods institutions can take in order to reduce the risk of Legionnaires disease.

First and foremost, reviewing the effectiveness of your water management plan regularly can make a significant difference. According to the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, large buildings in the United States now have an industry standard in place to have a water management which addresses Legionella. As such, a key component of such a water management plan is to schedule and predict the maintenance, repairs, and perhaps service interruptions which will be required. Yet in order to ensure such a plan is working accordingly, regular testing for Legionella pneumophila for such testing is “critical to determining whether Legionnaires’ disease bacteria are present and at what levels”, according to the OSHA guidelines for Legionnaires’ disease.

Yet not all tests are equal. To start, it is important that much of the testing includes and is focused on Legionella pneumophila. According to the CDC, this single strain is responsible for the vast majority of all legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, a fact which has made the Veterans Administration healthcare facilities require testing for Legionella pneumophila every quarter. Finally, while rapid tests, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, can provide quicker results, culture tests are a more reliable source of quantification of Legionella and should be used for water management plans.

Clearly there are numerous methods institutions can take in order to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease however as a start, this post would simply like to highlight that developing a regular water management plan which includes not only accurate testing but appropriate testing is a great first step.

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 12:18 pm
Jan
15
2018
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Last week, on January 9th, Illinois state officials gathered for a hearing on the Legionnaires’ outbreak which occurred at the Quincy, Illinois Veterans Home and has resulted in the death of 13 people since August 2015. This hearing not only discussed the causes of this outbreak and what responses were taken in its aftermath, but also reviewed next steps forward to ensure that such an incident would not happen again.

As a review, the first reported case of this outbreak at the veterans home arrived in late July 2015 with a second identified case arriving just a few weeks later. Once this second diagnosis was brought to the attention of Illinois state health officials, orders were sent out to the home’s administrators, instructing them to begin implementing specific actions in order to help prevent the its spread. Some of the measures which the home administrators were instructed to do included shutting off the use of potentially contaminated water, a move which state health officials suggest helped prevent the further spread of the outbreak.

Others, however, have criticized the response to this particular outbreak, mainly because state officials did not notify family members of residents who did not show symptoms or the general public about the reported cases for 6 days, even as home administrators were busy trying to stem the disease’s spread, a detail of the response which was not made public until a report was released in December by WBEZ-FM’s 91.5 fm. State officials, including Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries, have responded that they choose to delay notifying the public and resident families who were not showing symptoms because they did not want to incite hysteria or panic while some lawmakers, such as Rep. Michael Halpin of Rock Island, have questioned why notification could not be done in a responsible manner while implementing safety measures.

Since legionnaire’s disease was discovered, the process of fully removing the Legionella bacteria and preventing further incidents has been slow and more difficult than first imagined. Indeed while most of the reported 47 cases occurred in 2015, two volunteers and three residents showed symptoms in 2016 while in 2017, five residents became sick with legionnaires with one of these residents eventually passing away.

At the start of this year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report summarizing potential methods for reducing the outbreak within the home. The report also made clear that the possibility of new cases emerging could not be eliminated.

Overall, some takeaways from this incident show that taking preventative measures is by far the most effective path forward however when a case of Legionnaires disease becomes evident, quick and effective responses are crucial to minimize damage and casualties.

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 12:13 pm
Jan
03
2018
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From New York to California, populations across the United States have an increased risk of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

Health officials are increasingly concerned about the continuous uptick of Legionnaires’ disease cases, which have risen steadily since 2000.

While the waterborne bacterial disease is relatively rare ― with 6,238 cases nationwideso far this year ― there has been a 13.6 percent increase in cases since this time last year. That’s nearly double the increase of 7.8 percent from 2015 to 2016 in the same time period.

The disease is not contagious. It’s contracted when people breathe in water droplets contaminated with Legionella pneumophilia bacteria.

“A person acquires Legionnaires’ disease from mist,”Julien Martinez, assistant press secretary at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told HuffPost in October. “Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.”

For most people, Legionnaires’ disease is treatable with antibiotics, but it can cause severe respiratory illnesses or pneumonia and is fatal for about 1 out of every 10 people who contract it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts point to a handful of factors when looking at the upward trend. The nation’s aging population, which is more susceptible to the disease, and deteriorating infrastructure are top of the list. And the increased awareness of the disease and improved detection are contributing to the rise in identified cases, Dr. Chris Edens, an epidemiologist on CDC’s Legionella team, told HuffPost.

Edens also pointed to the rise in temperatures nationwide ― with longer summers meaning more usage of cooling towers ― as another potential factor in the increase.

If you believe you or someone you know has been diagnosed with this disease, Contact us to see what we can do to help.

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 10:13 am
Dec
01
2017
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ASHRAE 188 is an industry standard dealing with preventing Legionnaires’ disease in water systems in buildings in the United States. Unfortunately, the standard does not go far enough. While it does require the development of a water management plan, it does not require testing for the presence of legionella (the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease) in the water supply. This often leads to a person contracting Legionnaires’ disease and then testing for the presence of the bacteria. This is the proverbial canary in the coal mine scenario, where the miners only knew there was gas after it had spread throughout the mine. Fortunately, there are organizations, e.g. the VA, Allegheny County, and  Medicare certified health facilities, require testing for the presence of legionella. ASHRAE should follow suit.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:23 am
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Nov
22
2017
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Even the happiest place on Earth is immune from the potentially lethal bacteria called Legionella. Orange County, CA health officials isolated Cooling towers located in Disneyland as the common source that caused at least 12 cases of legionnaires’ disease over the last three weeks. Most of those who were affected were visitors of the park while at least three were resident living closely to the cooling towers in question. At least 10 individuals  were hospitalized.

Legionnaires’ is a severe lung infection caused by exposure to contaminated water or mist. In other cases handled by Jules Zacher, we have seen cooling towers spread Legionella over a wide area causing outbreaks that effect dozens of individuals.

If you believe you or someone you know has been diagnosed with this disease, Contact us to see what we can do to help.

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 9:38 am
Oct
13
2017
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Five guests and one employee of the Springhill Suites Austin Round Rock hotel in Williamson County, Texas, have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The earliest cases were reported to the State Department of Health Services on September 29, 2017.

The hotel has enlisted the help of a third-party firm in attempt to identify any possible source of Legionella bacteria and eliminate it from the property. The first three cases all reported being in or around the hot tub at the hotel, as well as the employee who had access to that area of the property. The hotel opted to close its doors to guests on October 4, 2017 until the remediation efforts are deemed complete. This time period is expected to be about 3 weeks in length, and the hotel hopes to reopen October 24, 2017, should it gain approval to do so from the Health Department.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include coughing, vomiting, nausea, confusion, and lethargy.

If you believe you or someone you know has been diagnosed with this disease, Contact us to see what we can do to help.

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 3:21 pm