Sep
29
2016
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The La Quinta Inn & Suites in Memphis, Tennessee has been closed since September 22, 2016, following 6 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in people that stayed there. Prior to close, the hotel distributed a letter by the Shelby County Health Department that urged anyone who experienced symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, or headaches after staying there to seek medical attention.

However, the hotel now has reason to believe that around 6,000 people could have been exposed to the Legionella bacteria responsible for the outbreak between July 1, 2016 and September 22, 2016.  They are now in the process of contacting people who stayed there during this period by E-mail, mail, and telephone to ensure they are aware of possible exposure to the bacteria, and so that they can seek the appropriate medical treatment. There is no clear indication that the hotel has yet identified the specific source of the bacteria within it’s facility.

If you stayed at La Quinta Inn & Suites on Millbranch Road in Memphis, TN, and experienced any of the above symptoms or any others similar to those of Legionnaires’ disease, the Shelby County Health Department asks that you contact them at 901-222-9299.

More information is available here.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:31 am
Sep
28
2016
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Close-up of Legionella bacteria

Close-up of Legionella bacteria

Numbers continue to grow in the ongoing investigation in Hopkins, MN, and officials still are unsure what the source of the Legionella responsible for this outbreak might be. Currently, the total confirmed cases found associated with the Hopkins area adds up to 20, with one case resulting in the victim’s death.

The victims of the disease were found to live, work, or have visited the Hopkins, Minnesota area prior to September 9, 2016. Although some measures to eradicate the possible source of the outbreak have already been taken- such as disinfecting cooling towers atop some local businesses and shutting down a decorative fountain- none of these locations have tested positive for the bacteria. Therefore, it is unclear whether these measures will prevent any new cases from developing.

The Minnesota Department of Health has enlisted the aid of the New York state diagnostic laboratory to test the Hopkins water samples for Legionella, due to their experience in testing for the bacteria after an outbreak in New York City in 2015.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com for updates to this post or for more information on Legionnaires’ disease.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 2:31 pm
Sep
27
2016
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The University of Washington Medical Center began the remediation process following the Legionnaires’ disease diagnoses of four patients treated at their facility. Two of these patients have since passed. However, while the facility believed that their efforts had eliminated the bacteria, on Monday, September 26, 2016, officials announced a fifth case of Legionnaires’ disease associated with the facility.

UW Medical Center implemented the use of filters and flushed their water system with chlorine on September 19th and 20th. These efforts were believed to have abolished Legionella bacteria from the Cascade Tower, which was thought to be the cause of the outbreak. While the fifth diagnosed patient was present at the facility prior to the remediation process, the patient returned on September 20th when the facility’s water system was believed to be void of Legionella. This new diagnosis suggests that perhaps the bacteria were not completely eliminated through the remediation process, and that Legionella may still be present within the facility.

The facility is now awaiting the results of new tests performed on its Cascade Tower, and has not yet responded as to whether or not water restrictions will again be in place throughout the facility.

Likewise, a patient at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Washington was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, stated officials on Monday, September 26th. This case appears to be unrelated to the UW Medical Center cases, with the only commonality being that the patients are all believed to have been exposed to Legionella while seeking medical attention for other conditions.

More information is available at the link below.

Case of Legionella confirmed at Bellevue hospital; new case reported at UW

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com for updates to this post or for more information on Legionnaires’ disease.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 4:13 pm
Sep
26
2016
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Lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who serves as a professor of public health and medicine, explained that his team analyzed 100 million Medicare records dated between 1991 and 2006. During that time, over 617,000 Americans had been hospitalized due to infection resulting from exposure to Legionella, which is responsible for Legionnaires’ disease; pseudomonas, which can develop into pneumonia; and mycobacteria, which can cause tuberculosis among other illnesses. These bacteria can live in pipes and survive on small amounts of nutrients found in water.

Although most often water treatment plants are in place to help combat these dangerous bacteria, the distance between treatment plants and the average home still poses a threat. The treatment chemicals are typically so far diluted by the time they reach the average home, and thus gives the water ample opportunity to still become contaminated along its journey through a water system. Additionally, some of these bacteria are resistant to one or more antibiotics.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan serves as a perfect example for this sort of problem. The city changed its water source and utilized pipes that were old and corroding, exposing thousands to lead and bacteria that caused the area’s Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. The U.S. Senate on September 15, 2016, approved a $9 billion bill that would designate funds for various water infrastructure in 17 states. This bill, called the Water Resources Development Act, may or may not pass in the House of Representatives.

Ideally, replacement of all corroding water systems in the U.S. would basically eliminate this problem altogether. However, the cost that would be involved makes the idea completely impractical. Methods to combat this issue should be brought on a smaller scale, like superheating water in facilities to eliminate the bacteria, especially where those exposed to bacteria would be more susceptible to developing illness – such as hospitals and nursing homes.

While the mission for cleaner water in the U.S. appears to be an uphill battle, the Flint, Michigan water crisis exemplifies the real threat that unclean water poses to the general public. With more research and more funding headed in the clean water direction, hopefully another crisis on the Flint scale could be avoided.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com for updates to this post or for more information on Legionnaires’ disease.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:04 am
Sep
23
2016
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La Quinta Inn & Suites in Memphis, TN

La Quinta Inn & Suites in Memphis, TN

The La Quinta Inn & Suites located by the Memphis International Airport was closed Thursday morning, thanks to Shelby County health officials. The hotel is being investigated by the Tennessee Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control after five people who reported staying there this past August contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

Prior to its close, the hotel distributed a letter by the Shelby County Health Department to its guests that urged anyone who experienced symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease within a two week period from being at the hotel to seek medical attention. However, many guests feel that they should have been made aware of the investigation prior to booking a stay there, and believe they should be entitled to a refund.

The hotel is currently trying to identify the source of the Legionella bacteria, and will remain closed until the source is identified and the bacteria are eliminated.

Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S.  Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com for updates to this post or for more information on Legionnaires’ disease.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 9:42 am
Sep
22
2016
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Corinne Miller, former Director of Disease Control and Prevention within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services 

Corinne Miller, who retired earlier this year from her position as the Director of Disease Control and Prevention within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, accepted a plea agreement last week regarding her involvement in the Flint water crisis.

Miller plead no-contest to a misdemeanor charge of willful neglect of duty by a public officer, relinquishing two felony charges. Her misdemeanor charge may even be dismissed after her probation is completed. The plea acknowledges that Miller was aware of dozens of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area around the time the city began using the Flint River as its water source back in 2014, but she failed to notify health care providers or the general public.

As part of the plea, Miller must now work alongside the Michigan Attorney General’s office in their investigation into the water crisis and provide truthful testimony as to her knowledge regarding the Flint water crisis.

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 for updates to this post or for more information on Legionnaires’ disease.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:22 am
Sep
21
2016
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Sign outside of University of Washington's Medical Center in Seattle, WA

Sign outside of University of Washington’s Medical Center in Seattle, WA

Sinks and an ice machine at the University of Washington’s Medical Center in Seattle tested positive for Legionella bacteria last week; however, as of Monday, officials reported that the bacteria was also found within three CardiQuip heater-cooler machines at the facility. Heater-cooler machines are utilized during heart surgeries to regulate blood temperature.

The machines tested positive for Legionella after an investigation was launched, following four confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in those that were treated there. Two of these patients have since died.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) reported 32 infections associated with heater-cooler machines within the period from January to August 2015, indicating that the transmission of Legionella bacteria from the devices to patients is possible. The FDA believes that contaminated water within the machine can be transmitted through other parts of the device or transmitted through the air. However, no direct link between the presence of the bacteria in the machines at UW and these four cases has yet been found.

Nonetheless, heater-cooler machines like those developed by CardiQuip have been known to allow for the development of bacteria. A $5 million federal class-action lawsuit was filed earlier this year by two men in Pennsylvania against LivaNova, PLC, a London-based company that produces heater-cooler units. The gentlemen claim they were exposed to dangerous nontuberculous mycobacterium (“NTM”) during heart surgery. Allegedly, a design flaw in the machine allowed the NTM bacteria to develop inside. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a warning about heater-cooler devices back in 2015.

Tina Mankowski, a spokeswoman for UW Medicine, stated that since the detection of the Legionella bacteria, the heater-cooler machines have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, and have not been in use. The facility has nine other heater-cooler units that have tested negative for the bacteria, and those will be used for heart surgeries in the meantime.

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 10:22 am
Sep
20
2016
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The Minnesota Department of Health (“MDH”) stated on Friday, September 16, that there are now nine confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Hopkins area, with patients ranging in age from their 20’s to their 90’s.

Officials have indicated that they are still unaware of the source of the Legionella bacteria responsible for the outbreak, and believe it is possible that they might never know. The MDH expects to see more cases of Legionnaires’ popping up within the Hopkins area as a result of the outbreak. Legionnaires’ disease is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.

The MDH has indicated they have spoken to multiple big businesses in the downtown Hopkins area to attempt to identify the source of the bacteria, including SuperValu and Thermotech regarding their cooling systems, and Cargill regarding its outdoor fountain. The MDH says they are looking at everything as a possible source of the bacteria.

One victim suffering from the disease is only 29 years old, and he was placed in a hospital’s intensive care unit as a result of his exposure to Legionella bacteria in Hopkins. His family is spreading the word of his condition, with the intention of educating others about 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 12:39 pm
Sep
19
2016
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Ussery Roan Veterans' Home in Amarillo, Texas

Ussery Roan Veterans’ Home in Amarillo, Texas

Two individuals were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at the Ussery Roan Veterans’ Home at the end of August this year. Officials confirmed that one patient is being treated at the nursing home, while the other is being treated at Amarillo VA Hospital. Both patients appear to be improving and are expected to recover at this time.

Brittany Eck is the Press Secretary for the Texas General Land Office, or the agency that oversees the operation of eight VA nursing homes in Texas. Eck stated that after notification of the diagnoses, the agency quickly began working with the Amarillo Public Health Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs to contest the problem. The facility will continue to test and sterilize its water supply with the help of medical grade water filters, and the agency also plans to implement a protocol for monthly water testing of its nursing homes.

The results from the last round of testing in both individuals and the facility water supply were all negative, said Eck. The exact source of the Legionella bacteria in these cases has not yet been determined.

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 11:04 am
Sep
16
2016
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Officials at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA have investigated possible sources of Legionella bacteria. Three cases of Legionnaires’ disease, two of them fatal, have been associated with the hospital within the last month. Legionella has been found in ice makers and sinks in the hospital’s cardiac unit.

On August 26, the hospital learned that a 30-year-old woman had contracted the disease; she has since been discharged and is recovering at home. A 50-year-old man was reported to have the disease on September 6. He died in the hospital on Thursday. This week, an autopsy linked the August 27 death of a third patient was linked to Legionnaires’ disease. Hospital officials have clarified that, while Legionnaires’ disease may have contributed to the death of the two patients, it has not been listed as the cause of death in either case.

Both patients had been treated in the UWMC cardiac unit. It was initially considered possible that the patient who is now recovering was exposed to Legionella outside of the hospital, but the first victim had not left the cardiac unit during the incubation period of the disease. Investigators conducted extensive tests on possible source locations within the hospital, including showers, sinks, and operating-room equipment. The hospital also began testing patients who were exhibiting symptoms that could result from Legionnaires’ disease, as the disease is sometimes mistaken for pneumonia and undiagnosed. None of the 15 patients who underwent precautionary testing had Legionnaires’ disease.

The hospital has begun issuing bottled water to patients and has restricted use of the water fountains and infected areas of the cardiac unit. The water system could take at least two weeks to be fully functional. Officials have also notified patients of the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and provided information about the disease.

UWMC was fined in 2015 when the Department of Labor and Industries found low levels of Legionella bacteria in its cooling towers. Since then, officials have performed quarterly tests on the cooling towers. The cooling towers were not implicated in the current outbreak.

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 10:31 am