What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia typically caused by inhaling water vapor that contains Legionella bacteria. The disease is most common in the summer and early fall because the bacteria thrive in warm water, but it can happen at any time of the year. About 100 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported every year in New Jersey.
People with weakened immune systems, like the elderly, are at greater risk of infection. That’s why officials in Morris County, New Jersey took action when a patient at a Morris Township nursing home tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease.
The illness got its name in 1976 when 29 people died after attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia.
How does Legionnaires’ disease spread?
Legionella bacteria grow best in hot water tanks and hot tubs. After it multiplies, water containing Legionella is spread in small droplets and inhaled. Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious.
In the case of Morris View Heathcare Center, published reports say the bacteria was found in water from a faucet in the patient’s room. It was also detected in several other areas of the nursing home. In the aftermath, all water fountains were disabled, modifications were made in the kitchen in terms of food preparation, and the ice machines were sanitized.
Common sources of Legionnaires’ disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella is a type of bacterium that poses a danger when it spreads in water systems such as:
- Sink faucets and showerheads
- Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
- Hotel pools
- Cruise ships
- Decorative foundations
- Hot water tanks
- Large plumbing systems
According to a commentary published in the journal JAMA Open Network, hospital patients and residents of long-term care facilities represent a small portion of the total number of Legionnaires’ cases, but are associated with higher mortality. The CDC notes that most of those cases stem from preventable problems with facilities’ water systems.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires’ disease is accompanied by symptoms that resemble many forms of the flu and pneumonia, which can make it difficult to diagnose. They include:
- High fever
- Muscle aches
Typically, symptoms begin 2 to 14 days after encountering Legionella bacteria. A chest X-ray can detect pneumonia caused by the disease, and tests on phlegm or blood can confirm the presence of the bacteria.
Legionnaires’ disease and the law
After receiving medical treatment for Legionnaires’ disease, your next call should be to an experienced attorney who is familiar with personal injury law and Legionnaires’ claims. You may be entitled to sue for damages for injuries resulting from the disease, reimbursement for medical costs or hospital stays, reparation for lost wages, or damages for wrongful death. Your age, severity of the illness, and your occupation are others factors as well.
If you contracted Legionnaires’ disease that you feel is the fault of a New Jersey nursing home, hospital, or other entity, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of James C. Dezao, P.A. Call Dezao Law today at (973) 358-6134 for a free consultation.