March 6, 2021 zacherlaw 1 Comments

There is an ongoing outbreak of Legionnaires disease unfolding in Union County, New Jersey. Fourteen individuals have been confirmed to have Legionnaires disease and one person has died as a result of the disease. These cases were all reported between February 3rd through February 26th.  The New Jersey Department of Health alongside local health officials are currently investigating this outbreak. They have identified some potential sources of the Legionella bacteria and have begun the process of removing it. They have warned any resident or visitor of Union County that is experiencing symptoms consistent with Legionnaires disease to seek medical attention. [1] If you have…

February 1, 2021 zacherlaw 0 Comments

This post continues the discussion of the National Academies of Sciences management of Legionella in water systems report. Chapter two begins to delve into the diagnosis, ecology, and exposure pathways of Legionella. In our everyday life, humans live peacefully alongside a number of microbes, organisms so small they are invisible to the human eye. Most of these microbes are harmless and may are beneficial. However, there are groups of microbes that cause disease  In general, the impact of exposure to a particular microbe depends on three factors. Firstly, the quantity of microorganisms. Secondly, their capacity to cause harm. Lastly, the strength of an individual…

January 13, 2021 zacherlaw 0 Comments

The next several blog posts are going to be a series that highlight a very important recent 2020 study published by the National Academies of Sciences about the management of Legionella in water systems. This comes at an important time, as Legionella is the number one cause of reported waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States.  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine produced a report that addressed the current state of the science with regard to Legionella. As a result, they included the current ecology, disease diagnosis, quantification, prevention and control, policy and guidance, and all associated research needs. The U.S. Centers…

December 15, 2020 jzacher 0 Comments

As buildings continue to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, the risk of legionella exposure remains, including in schools that have been closed for many months. Stagnant water, like that in buildings that have been closed for extended periods, provides an ideal environment for Legionella to grow. At least 10 schools in Pennsylvania and Ohio found harmful bacteria in their plumbing when attempting to reopen this fall. Schools often have many water use locations, from gym showers to drinking fountains, making them vulnerable to bacterial growth, including Legionella, when the systems aren’t cared for properly. However, water researchers note that most…

December 7, 2020 jzacher 0 Comments

Smithsonian Magazine recently published an article discussing rising rates of legionella exposure over the last two decades. While the United States has some of the safest drinking water in the world, due in large part to the passage of the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, exposure to legionella continues to be an issue across the country. Legionella accounts for about 60% of waterborne disease outbreaks over the last decade, now the leading cause of outbreaks. While almost 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported to the CDC in 2018 experts suggest that the real number may be significantly…

November 30, 2020 zacherlaw 0 Comments

The Harvard Kennedy School’s Journalist’s Resource recently published an interesting article highlighting the inequities in access to safe in-home water across the United States. Around 1.1 million people across the U.S. report lacking some access to running water in their homes and households of color are disproportionately more likely to fall into this group. Households of color in metropolitan areas are 34% more likely to lack complete plumbing in their home. For a household to have complete plumbing, it must have it running hot and cold water plus a bathtub or shower used only by people living in the dwelling.…

November 23, 2020 zacherlaw 0 Comments

There has been a suspected legionella outbreak in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Two individuals who stayed at the Round Barn Lodge have confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease. While there has not yet been testing to confirm the lodge as their source of exposure, both individuals began feeling symptoms 10-14 days after their stay which falls within the typical incubation period for Legionnaires’ disease. The lodge has since hired an independent laboratory partner to test the water and resolve any problems with the water that may be found. The lodge has voluntarily closed and notified past guests with information provided by the…

November 19, 2020 zacherlaw 0 Comments

The settlement of the Flint water crisis lawsuits has recently grown to $641 million dollars. The initial settlement amount this summer was $600 million, but the amount increased with additional defendants, including the city of Flint, joining the settlement. With roughly 80 percent of the settlement slated to go to children, prioritizing those who were 6 years old or younger when they were first exposed to Flint River water, money will also be available to those who contracted Legionnaires’ disease from Flint water. People who were both exposed to water received from the Flint treatment plant and diagnosed with Legionnaires’…

November 18, 2020 zacherlaw 0 Comments

The next case we’re going to revisit, while also involving a hotel, is unique as it involved an external maintenance company and the duty it owed to keep a pool system safe. In this case, a hotel employee was tasked with manually cleaning out the filter for the pool and hot tub. Within a week, the employee began to feel ill and was later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. He was the third case of Legionnaires’ disease that could be traced back to the hotel. He was hospitalized multiple times over a 5-month period as a result of his diagnosis. Both…

November 13, 2020 zacherlaw 0 Comments

Hospital-associated cases are what they sound like: contaminated water at the hospital causes illness amongst its patients and/or employees. Healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes usually serve the populations with the highest risk of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease: elderly individuals and individuals with prior-existing conditions. The following case we had a few years ago. In 2017, the client was admitted to a nearby hospital. Shortly after, she developed symptoms consistent with Legionnaires’ Disease such as cough and fatigue, was treated in the ICU, and then discharged. Unfortunately, because physicians misdiagnosed her, she had to be readmitted days later. Arriving in acute…