Aug
25
2016
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A Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta, GA has been dealing with a possible outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Two plant workers were recently diagnosed with the disease Administrators circulated an internal memo on July 28 stating that Legionella experts had conducted initial tests for the bacteria; these tests turned out negative. The company states that it plans to continue testing at the facility and to make changes to its water treatment system.

These two cases are the first in Marietta to be linked to a single location, but now some former workers who contracted the disease are coming forward with their stories. One former operational engineer, who was diagnosed with the disease in October of 2014, believes that he was exposed at the plant. Lockheed Martin has stated that it was not notified of his illness, and without an investigation the initial source of the disease remains unclear.

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 11:41 am
Aug
23
2016
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Allegheny General Hospital

Allegheny General Hospital

The Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA is exploring options to eliminate Legionella bacteria from its water supply. The hospital found the bacteria in two water tanks earlier this year, and has since taken steps to keep patients safe. Hospital officials shut down sources of drinking water in several floors of its main inpatient facility after Legionella cultures were positive, and it increased the frequency of testing in high-risk units.

The hospital has now largely returned to its normal water treatment system, though officials are continuing to test drinking water and are considering an overhaul of the existing water treatment system. The cancer and transplant wards are receiving particular attention from officials and regular tests are continuing there. Cancer and transplant patients are often at especially high risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease due to immunosuppressant drugs or otherwise compromised immune systems. The hospital has been following CDC recommendations and is taking precautions despite no cases having been reported.

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 12:00 pm
Aug
18
2016
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Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette has provided more information about an investigation into an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint. The media storm surrounding cases of lead poisoning in the city at first overlooked Legionnaires’ disease, but recent probes have brought the outbreak to the public’s attention. Aging city infrastructure, combined with a water supply that may have been contaminated with Legionella bacteria, led to the outbreak that claimed at least 12 lives last year in the embattled city.

The Attorney General’s office has been pursuing this investigation for two months. It has now announced that the investigation may lead to charges as serious as involuntary manslaughter. Legal recourse for victims of government negligence is limited, but the aptly named Special Prosecutor Todd Flood promised to engage experts and members of the community.

The investigation has already been expensive, but has so far led to the bringing of criminal charges against five employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Two state employees from another department already face charges of concealing test results in the lead poisoning scandal. Flood has stated that the investigation will target those who concealed information or committed crimes, rather than those who made mistakes.

At the same time, Genesee County announced its fourth confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease this year, a decrease from this time last year.

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 5:45 pm
Aug
17
2016
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Officials have confirmed a third case of Legionnaires’ disease at Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, IL. This confirmation comes less than a month after the opening of a new water system at the home. The status of the third patient is unknown.

The Quincy home has experienced problems with Legionnaires’ disease in the past. Last year, 53 people contracted Legionnaires’ disease and 12 died in an outbreak, prompting officials to replace the home’s water system. The new water system cost nearly $5 million and was designed to combat the spread of bacteria by heating and chlorinating water in individual buildings rather than at a central location. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was recently present when the water system was opened, and spokespeople for the governor have said that the state is doing everything possible to reduce the risk of further contamination.

The Quincy Veterans’ Home is over 120 years old. Aging water systems are often at risk of harboring Legionella bacteria. Veterans’ homes and other residential health facilities should take special precautions to keep their water systems safe, as the populations they serve are often older and at greater risk of having compromised immune systems.

 

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 12:06 pm
Aug
10
2016
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Analysts expect the global market for Legionella testing to grow considerably over the next several years. As property owners and businesses become aware of the value of testing their water systems for Legionella, demand for testing products and water experts should increase.

Public health initiatives and the widespread publicity of cases like the Bronx outbreak and the Flint water crisis have increased awareness of the risks of Legionnaires’ disease in the popular mind. As doctors and patients become more aware that diagnoses of pneumonia and colds might be concealing the presence of Legionella, advancements in testing will drive up the demand for new immunodiagnostic techniques. The standard culture test for Legionella bacteria now takes 4 to 5 days to return a result, but this length of time is expected to decrease as technology improves.

More information is available here.

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 5:27 pm
Aug
03
2016
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Regulations that require managers to test cooling towers in New York City have gone into effect as of July 6, 2016. After last year’s deadly South Bronx outbreak, in which 138 residents were sickened and 16 died, investigators determined that a contaminated cooling tower was the source of Legionella bacteria. Emergency regulations were passed requiring property owners to register their buildings and perform tests for Legionella. These temporary measures calmed public concern and created a list of cooling towers in the Bronx area, which will be used by investigators in the future.

Now these measures have been made permanent, and the New York State Department of Health has enacted permanent regulations that govern the safety of cooling towers. Owners of buildings with cooling towers must keep the status of their towers updated in a new statewide electronic system; they must also inspect them prior to seasonal startup and every 90 days when in use. All buildings must also keep an updated maintenance program with a schedule for Legionella testing. When Legionella is found, property managers must notify their local health department within 24 hours and then work with health officials to prevent an outbreak.

New measures have also been put in place to regulate hospitals and residential health care facilities. These measures are especially important, as hospital populations often older and often immunocompromised and therefore at greater risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Health facilities must perform an environmental assessment of their buildings and water systems, adopt and implement sampling and management plans, and continue to test for Legionella once every 90 days from now on.

New York’s Legionella containment strategy is an effective template for legislation that could ultimately help prevent Legionnaires’ disease. Cooling towers are only one potential source of the disease, but these regulations are useful guidelines for officials as they draft more comprehensive legislation in the future. The CDC points out that 9 out of 10 outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease were caused by problems that could be prevented with more effective water management. This legislation is a timely and necessary step in right the direction.

More information can be found here.

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 11:29 am
Aug
02
2016
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The continuing saga of Legionella at the Golden Sands Condominium advanced this week when recent tests showed the presence of the bacteria in the water once again.

After two guests contracted Legionnaires’ disease at the Maryland facility last November, management launched a treatment plan and disinfected the building’s water system with chlorine. Subsequent tests indicated that the bacteria was under control. At the end of June, however, two more guests of the condo contracted Legionnaires’. As required by the local health department, management began to conduct biweekly tests of the building and alerted tenants of the risk.

The results of the new tests have been uneven, as is common when testing a newly installed water system. Because of the size of the building and the age of the plumbing, pockets of water may not have been reached by chlorination. The most recent test was taken on June 28, the day on which the  two guests seem to have contracted the disease. Out of 19 areas studied, 17 showed no bacteria presence and one showed a fractional presence. The last, however, showed a significant level of Legionella.

The presence of bacteria means that biweekly tests will continue until the facility is clear of Legionella for three straight months; after that, the facility will be tested monthly for three more months. A water management expert points out that resort buildings like Golden Sands, where units may remain empty for long periods of time, are at particular risk of breeding the bacteria.

More information is available here.

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 2:23 pm
Aug
01
2016
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The Savoy Park Apartments in Harlem

The Savoy Park Apartments in Harlem

A pair of Legionnaires’ disease cases seem to have originated at the same apartment complex in Harlem. Two individuals who spent time at the Savoy Park Apartments on W 139th Street have been diagnosed with the disease over the past ten months; both have since recovered

Investigators say that these cases should not be considered as part of an outbreak. Still, the city’s health department has been proactive in its response. These cases come in the wake of the deadly August 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires’ in the south Bronx, and health officials are on high alert. Once an investigation was decided upon, managers at the complex notified residents and informed them that an environmental company had been hired to test water from the buildings. Officials have suggested that tenants with compromised immune systems avoid showers and take steps to prevent creating mist.

During the south Bronx epidemic, officials tested cooling towers across the city and determined that many of them housed the deadly Legionella bacteria. New York City recently enacted legislation that requires building operators to perform regular tests on their cooling towers. There are no cooling towers at the Savoy Park Apartments, however, so the environmental investigation will focus on other potential sources of the bacteria.

More information is available here.

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 2:40 pm
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Jul
29
2016
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A new study by a team at Virginia Tech has linked the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint, MI to the city’s decision to switch its water supply.

Flint suffered a surge in cases of Legionnaires’ disease from 2014 to 2015, with nearly 100 people sickened and 12 deaths. The death toll could have been higher, as Legionnaires’ disease often masquerades as pneumonia and goes unreported. Health officials assumed that the city’s decision to switch its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River was to blame, but no tests were done at the time of the outbreak. (An investigation into the decision not to test for Legionella is ongoing.)

The potential Legionella contamination was soon overshadowed by national news about Flint’s lead poisoning crisis. As public awareness has grown, however, organizations have begun to fund studies and programs to stop the spread of Legionnaires’ disease . Now, a new study has shown that homes that switched to water from the Flint river had concentrations of Legionella that were about seven times as high as homes that kept their original water sources. Furthermore, no chlorine was detectable in homes that made the switch, meaning that the water was not protected from new Legionella contamination.

There are many possible reasons for the increased concentration of Legionella bacteria. Even when water is properly chlorinated, iron corrosion in older water infrastructure can cause chlorine to lose its disinfectant power. This means that the older pipes in many buildings were making chlorine a less effective killer of bacteria. In addition, Legionella bacteria feed on the iron in the pipes. The temperature of the Flint River, which is warmer than that of Lake Huron, also made the city’s water system a hospitable temperature for Legionella. When the Flint River’s corrosive water dissolved the protective lining of the city’s pipes, it released nutrients and created an ideal environment for the growth of Legionella.

The VT team notes that better collection of information at the time of the water switch could have allowed health officials to offer timely solutions or at least inform the public about the crisis:

“Unfortunately, federal guidelines contain no specific monitoring requirements for Legionella to be performed by water utilities, providing little incentive for data collection, and failing to provide guidance to cities in crisis, such as Flint, wishing to proactively prevent outbreaks. Such monitoring might be conducted routinely by utilities in large publicly owned buildings representing a high risk for Legionella colonization.”

More information is available here.

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 2:50 pm
Jul
28
2016
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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner tours the Quincy Veterans' Home water facility

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner tours the Quincy Veterans’ Home water facility

More cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported at an Illinois veterans’ home. The facility has been trying to prevent Legionella infection since an outbreak last August during which 54 people were sickened and 12 died.

On Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs revealed two cases of Legionnaires’ disease that originated at the Quincy Illinois Veterans’ Home. Health officials said that the patients contracted the disease from separate buildings. The patients were treated at a hospital and are now recovering in the veterans’ home.

These new cases come at a difficult time for the Quincy facility, which recently refurbished its water system. Last year’s outbreak led officials to invest in a $5 million on-site water treatment plant and delivery system, designed specifically to combat the spread of Legionella bacteria.

Part of the problem is that municipal water has time to warm to a temperature at which Legionella thrives before arriving at the veterans’ home. Chemical treatment at the home should kill the bacteria. Officials are testing water in many parts of the facility and monitoring any residents who display symptoms of pneumonia.

Read more about this story here.

 

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:41 am