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Legionnaires’ Disease: Should You Be Concerned?

Posted on - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 under Medical Malpractice

One of the many problems related to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014 that sickened at least 87 people and contributed to the deaths of nine more.

But the outbreak in Flint was not the only one in the U.S., and the issues with Flint’s water supply are not the only way the disease can spread.

This relatively new year has already seen outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease in Hong Kong, Australia, and Spain. This comes on the heels of a 2015 that saw deadly outbreaks across the United States. These U.S. outbreaks sickened hundreds of people and killed at least 20.

The question is, should you be concerned?

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. It is not contagious.

Typically, infected patients are exposed to the bacterium after breathing in mist from water that contains the bacteria. Mist carrying Legionella can come from any number of things that we interact with on a fairly regular basis such as:

  • swimming pools
  • cooling towers
  • air conditioners
  • pipes and faucets.

All of these things use large quantities of water that create mist or water vapor which can be breathed in by hotel guests, apartment dwellers, retirement home residents, and many others.

What are the Symptoms and Effects of Legionnaires’ Disease?

Symptoms usually become present within 2-14 days of exposure and may include:

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Loss of coordination
  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

The elderly and people in poor health are particularly vulnerable to Legionnaires’ Disease. So too are smokers, those who have a chronic lung disease, and people with weakened immune systems.

In some cases, Legionnaires’ disease can lead to fatal complications such as respiratory failure, kidney failure, or septic shock.

Can Anyone Be Held Accountable for a Legionnaires’ Outbreak?

A Legionnaire’s outbreak is not always the result of someone’s negligence. However, poor maintenance or the failure by property owners or governmental entities to take simple precautionary measures can allow Legionella bacteria to flourish. When that happens, those responsible can be held accountable and may be liable to pay compensation to those whose health has been adversely effected by the disease.

If you or a loved one has been exposed to the Legionella bacterium or have been sickened by Legionnaires’ disease, please call the metro Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Parian Law Firm at (770) 727-5550 or chat live online with a member of our staff today.  We can evaluate your case and help you determine your legal rights.