Sick with Legionnaires’ disease? Call (612) 337-6126
Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people who were injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member feel like you should take part in one of these Sugar Hill Project lawsuits, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


More lawsuits have been filed against New York City’s Sugar Hill Project, a housing complex in Harlem whose cooling tower allegedly gave nearly 60 people Legionnaires’ disease in 2018.

According to the lawsuits filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, nine new plaintiffs said the Sugar Hill Project (898 St. Nicholas Avenue) had a contaminated cooling tower that spread water droplets that gave them Legionella bacteria and landed them in the hospital.

The plaintiffs are suing Sugar Hill’s parent company, Broadway Housing Communities Inc., and cooling tower company, Clarity Water Technologies LLC, for negligence for two 2018 outbreaks, one over the summertime in which 27 people were sickened, and the other in the fall, when 32 people became ill. Two victims died because of their illnesses, one in each outbreak.

Residents of the complex claim in the lawsuits that they experienced “significant impairment, hospitalization, complications, symptoms, and problems caused by Legionnaires’ disease,” which they continue “to experience to the present day.”

Sugar Hill Project lawsuits: 13 and counting

The plaintiffs’ lawyer is Scott Harford, who earlier this year filed three lawsuits in conjunction with Minneapolis attorney Elliot Olsen, one of the leading Legionnaires lawyers in the country.

Olsen told USA Today in a February 2019 article that, although hospitals and nursing homes are required to bolster oversight of building water systems and medical equipment, there is little to no regulatory oversight of the water systems in apartment complexes like the Sugar Hill Project.

“There’s not a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” Olsen said. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”

The nine lawsuits give Harford a total of 13 he has brought.

Sugar Hill Project lawsuits: ‘all necessary steps’

Broadway Housing Communities did not return a request to comment, but Michael Shalhoub, a lawyer for Clarity Water Technologies, said, “Our client takes seriously the health risks posed by Legionella. We are confident that our client has taken all necessary steps to protect the public from these risks, and we are prepared to defend the claims made against it in court.”

Sugar Hill Project lawsuits: disease info

Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur every year, but only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms (see below).

Additionally, 10 percent of LD victims will die from the infection.

Legionella are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria grow best in warm water, and they are found primarily in human-made environments.

In addition to cooling towers and the water systems of large buildings, LD outbreaks have been linked to a range of other sources, including:

  • decorative fountains
  • hot tubs, whirlpools and swimming pools at fitness centers and on cruise ships
  • hot water tanks and heaters
  • showers and faucets
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • mist machines in the produce sections of grocery stores.
Sugar Hill Project lawsuits: cooling towers

Cooling towers contain large amounts of water and are potential breeding grounds for Legionella when they are not properly disinfected and maintained. Water within cooling towers is heated via heat exchange, which is an ideal environment for heat-loving Legionella.

‘‘Legionella is in water supplies at low levels, but it amplifies at certain temperatures,” Olsen told Bloomberg Law in an August 2018 article. “If chlorine levels drop below a certain level, then Legionella proliferates.’’

As the cooling tower moves air through a recirculated water system, it releases a “considerable amount of water vapor” into the atmosphere. If that water contains Legionella, people can contract LD by inhaling that vapor.

Sugar Hill Project lawsuits: disease symptoms

LD symptoms look like other forms of pneumonia or even flu, which is why so many cases go unreported. Early symptoms can include the following:

  • severe headaches
  • muscle aches
  • fever (sometimes 104 degrees or higher)
  • chills
  • loss of appetite.

After the first few days, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • chest pain when breathing (called pleuritic chest pain, due to inflamed lungs)
  • shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • confusion and agitation
  • a cough, which may bring up mucus and/or blood
  • gastrointestinal problems (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting), which occur in about one-third of LD cases.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at an Arkansas senior residence, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) said test results from water samples at an Arkansas senior residence revealed the existence of live Legionella bacteria.

Testing was ordered after two tenants at the Garland Towers & Garden Apartments were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, the waterborne form of pneumonia caused by Legionella. Older individuals, who make up the majority of tenants at the senior residence, are more susceptible to the illness.

Anyone can contract Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially deadly respiratory illness, but those at the most significant risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

The Garland Towers & Garden Apartments at 126 Oriole Street is a low-income housing apartment for seniors subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Arkansas senior residence: bacteria ‘alive’

Preliminary testing indicated the presence of the bacteria, but the recent positive result confirmed their viability – that is, alive and capable of being the cause of the illnesses.

“We did six samples, and two of them got a colony, which means there was at least one organism in the sample,” Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, ADH medical director for immunizations, told the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record. “That’s a very low number, but in this setting, where you have a lot of people with risk factors in the building, it’s concerning. We can’t prove (the diagnosed cases) got Legionella from the building, but it’s entirely possible that they did. ”

Hot Springs’ residents have accounted for 10 of the 52 cases diagnosed in Arkansas since the start of the year, according to the ADH.

Last month, the National Park Service Office of Public Health recommended all building owners/lessees in the Hot Springs National Park discontinue using showers connected to thermal water sources after Legionella bacteria were detected at Quapaw Baths & Spa. The decision was made after three cases of Legionnaires’ disease were confirmed in out-of-town visitors to the spa; one of the three victims died.

Arkansas senior residence: plan implemented

Dillaha said Belmont Management Co., the Garland Towers landlord, agreed to the department’s recommendations, including commissioning a water-management plan. The program would focus on the building’s boiler, common breeding grounds for Legionella.

“There’s other places in Arkansas and around the United States that have these types of complex water systems,” Dillaha said. “The most important thing is the need for a water-management plan. They need to contract with a company that can do a thorough assessment of the building and make recommendations specific to the building on handling water.”

Hospitals and nursing homes are required to bolster oversight of building water systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to harmful Legionella bacteria. There is, however, little regulatory oversight of apartments, hotels, and other non-medical buildings.

“There’s not a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen said. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”

Arkansas senior residence: disease info

Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person. The condition is treatable with antibiotics, but it must be diagnosed early. If that does not occur, it can lead to severe complications.

“The antibiotics can really help,” Dillaha said. “I think it’s important for people to know if they have the risk factors that they communicate that with their doctor if they get sick. Then the right test can be ordered, and it can be diagnosed early.”

Symptoms – which usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella – mimic those of pneumonia and even common flu. Along with cough, fever, and shortness of breath (dyspnea), other symptoms to be concerned about include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • chest pains (called pleurisy or pleuritis)
  • gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Legionnaires’ disease often is overlooked or undiagnosed because of its vague symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this Round Barn Lodge outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Round Barn Lodge, a popular Wisconsin motel in Spring Green, has been temporarily closed because of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, according to WKOW 27 TV.

The motel voluntarily ceased operations after the Sauk County Health Department (SCHD) confirmed the pneumonia-like illness in two guests who stayed at the lodge.

While it has yet to be definitively determined that the pair were sickened at the lodge, both contracted their diseases within 10 to 14 days of their stay at the lodge. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the typical incubation period for Legionnaires’ disease is two to 10 days, but can be as long as 16 days.

Legionnaires’ disease is also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia. The most common form of transmission of Legionella is the inhalation of contaminated aerosols produced in conjunction with water sprays, jets, or mists. Infection can also occur by aspiration of contaminated water or ice, particularly in susceptible hospital patients.

Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases caused by Legionella bacteria: Legionnaires’ disease (most serious) and Pontiac fever.

Round Barn Lodge outbreak: officials react

“There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our guests and colleagues,” Red Barn Lodge officials wrote in a news release.

Motel officials confirmed that they had written all past guests about the outbreak, including information supplied by the SCHD.

The lodge hired Phigenics, an independent water-management company, to test for Legionella; resolve water-quality problems, if they exist; and implement a safe water program.

Round Barn Lodge also implemented the following precautions:

  • Water was retested by Phigenics.
  • The motel and its banquet hall were closed.
  • All reservations were cancelled.

All staff members were placed on paid leave until the investigation is completed, and the facility has been given a clean bill of health.

Spring Green is approximately 30 miles west of Madison in southwestern Wisconsin on U.S. Hwy. 14. Round Barn Lodge’s address is E4830 U.S. Hwy. 14.

Round Barn Lodge outbreak: symptoms

If you lodged at, are an employee of, or are a recent visitor to the Round Barn Lodge and are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider. Symptoms often can be mistaken for the common flu.

Even if you’ve already recovered, and were not diagnosed with legionellosis, informing your physician that you spent time at the motel is recommended. The disease is often overlooked or undiagnosed, leading to the condition being underreported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For the disease to be classified correctly, specific testing and diagnosis must be done from a Legionnaires’ disease standpoint, and those tests are often not ordered. It’s not required for physicians to order Legionella-specific testing when a patient presents with pneumonia.

Initial symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, also called dyspnea
  • chest pains, also called pleurisy or pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart. Untreated Legionnaires’ disease usually worsens during the first week, which is why early diagnosis is key to recovery.

Round Barn Lodge outbreak: high-risk groups 

According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States every year. Anyone can contract the disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can occur; they include:

  • respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • septic shock: this can occur when Legionella produces toxins that enter the bloodstream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to the loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.
  • kidney failure: those same Legionella toxins can damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood, resulting in kidney failure.
  • endocarditis: an infection of the inner lining of the heart that can affect the ability of the heart to maintain adequate blood flow through the body.
  • pericarditis: swelling of the pericardium, which is the primary membrane around the heart. This can also affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body.
Round Barn Lodge outbreak: Wisconsin woes 

The Round Barn Lodge is not the only Wisconsin destination that has had to deal with Legionella recently. Hotels and resorts around the state have seen their share of issues with the sometimes-deadly bacteria over the past two years:

  • In August, the Rodeway Inn & Suites in Tomahawk in northern Wisconsin temporarily closed its doors for five days for remediation after a second Legionnaires case was confirmed within 12 months.
  • The SCHD investigated Christmas Mountain Village – a golf and ski resort in the Wisconsin Dell, 45 miles northeast of Spring Green – after three cases of the disease, including one fatality, were reported within 12 months. The first was confirmed in November 2017 and two more in October 2018.
  • The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake in northeastern Wisconsin dealt with a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2018 after four guests were sickened with the disease, one in March and three others in August. Two of 72 locations at the resort – a men’s restroom near an indoor pool and a cooling tower – tested positive for elevated levels of Legionella.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this East Texas outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


An eighth case of Legionnaires’ disease has been linked to the East Texas State Fair, the Northeast Texas Health District (NET Health) announced. One person has died in the outbreak.

NET Health announced that all eight people confirmed with the disease visited the fair.

The new case was one of five possible cases of the illness that were being monitored from the East Texas State Fair, which was held Sept. 20-29 in Tyler; the other four cases have been cleared. No information was released about the most recent victim.

East Texas outbreak: focus on convention center

There is renewed interest in the Harvey Convention Center as the possible source for the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease. The convention center initially was ruled out after testing was negative for Legionella.

However, after it was learned that the victim who died had volunteered at the Smith County Democratic Party’s information booth in the convention center, the investigation’s spotlight returned to the building.

NET Health retested the facility and sent environmental samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta for testing. Those results are pending.

East Texas outbreak: source sought

Legionella are naturally found in water, especially warm water. All possible sources inside the Harvey Convention Center are being reinvestigated, including the ventilation system, potable water sources, humidifiers, and vendors stationed inside the building.

One vendor being scrutinized is a hot tub vendor who was located near the information booth.

East Texas outbreak: hot tubs

At September’s Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, North Carolina, a hot tub display was the source of a legionellosis outbreak in which four people died and 139 were sickened – 134 with Legionnaires’ disease and five with Pontiac fever, the weaker of the two legionellosis diseases.

Hot tubs (or spas) that are not cleaned and disinfected often enough can become contaminated with Legionella, and a person can become infected when they breathe in steam or mist from a contaminated hot tub.

Because high water temperatures make it hard to maintain the disinfectant levels needed to kill germs like Legionella, making sure the hot tub has the right disinfectant and pH levels is essential, according to the CDC.

East Texas outbreak: numerous possibilities

Other human-made environments in which Legionella can be found include:

  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • large plumbing systems
  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • swimming pools
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.
East Texas outbreak: new case risk low

NET Health said there is no risk to attendees of future events at Harvey Convention Center or the surrounding area.

“NET Health has identified no evidence of any public health risk that would interrupt current or future events from occurring at Harvey Hall and its neighboring properties,” according to a NET Health statement. “Attendance at previous, upcoming or future events at Harvey Hall do not mean that a person has contracted or will contract the Legionella bacteria.”

The statement also reiterated that the department is continuing to communicate with vendors who were in Harvey Convention Center, as well as attendees who were close to the eight people diagnosed with the disease.

Terrence Ates, public information officer for NET Health, said the department is committed to “definitively identifying the exact source of our local Legionella cases, yet we ask everyone to exercise patience with the scientific process of testing and confirming the exact source of contamination.”

Testing for the potability and safety of public water supplies and distribution systems is required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and performed by the local health department.

If you have questions concerning Legionnaires’ disease, call the Disease Surveillance Division at NET Health at (903) 595-1350.

East Texas outbreak: seek advice if ill

If you attended or worked at the East Texas State Fair and exhibited Legionnaires’ disease symptoms (see below), NET Health urges you to contact your health-care provider.

The disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person – and it is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early enough. If that does not occur, however, it can lead to severe complications.

East Texas outbreak: disease symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection that – according to the CDC – is contracted by an estimated 25,000 Americans yearly. However, because of its nonspecific symptoms, only 5,000 cases are reported.

Symptoms – which usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella – mimic those of pneumonia and even common flu. Along with cough, fever, and shortness of breath (dyspnea), other symptoms to be concerned about include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • chest pains (called pleurisy or pleuritis)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this East Texas fair outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The search continues for the source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in East Texas that has claimed the life of one victim who was sickened with the deadly respiratory illness.

The outbreak’s ground zero has been determined to be the East Texas State Fair, which was held Sept. 20-29 in Tyler. All 12 people who took ill – seven were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and five had symptoms consistent with the disease – all attended the fair.

Ruben Gutierrez of Flint passed away from complications of the illness. Gutierrez, 69, volunteered at the Smith County Democratic Party’s information booth in the Harvey Convention Center on the fairgrounds. He staffed the booth each day of the fair.

The information booth was stationed near a hot tub display in the Harvey Convention Center, and also positioned under an air conditioning vent. Both are possible breeding grounds for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

East Texas fair outbreak: hot tubs again?

If the Legionella source is determined to be a hot tub, it would make the East Texas event the second state fair in three months to fall prey to a contaminated hot tub.

At September’s Mountain State Fair in Fletcher, North Carolina, a hot tub display was the source of a legionellosis outbreak that killed four people and infected 142 – 134 with Legionnaires and eight with Pontiac fever.

(Note: Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases caused by Legionella bacteria – Legionnaires’ disease and its much weaker sibling, Pontiac fever, which does not affect the lungs.)

East Texas fair outbreak: exhaustive testing

The Harvey Convention Center had been ruled out as a possible source after initial testing, but the ventilation system has been re-tested.

“We don’t want to leave anything out (as a source to be tested) and are doing our due diligence,” Terrance Ates, Northeast Texas Public Health (NET Health) spokesperson told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “We are testing every potential exposure site. All buildings on the fairgrounds and any other possible water sources, including those possibly generated by food and display vendors.”

The collection of environmental samples has been completed, Ates said, but there is no timetable as to when results will be released.

East Texas fair outbreak: in and out of hospital

NET Health CEO George Roberts confirmed that Gutierrez was one of the seven people with Legionnaires’ disease in the outbreak.

After his initial treatment, Gutierrez developed sepsis and other complications, including kidney failure, according to his wife, Susan Gutierrez, causing him to spend half of October in Tyler’s Christus Trinity Mother France Hospital.

Ruben Gutierrez bounced back and was released from the hospital in mid-October, but then he suffered setbacks and was readmitted to the hospital before passing away last week.

Susan Gutierrez said she was told the source of her husband’s contamination was unknown.

“They said it was something in the fair, but he was there every day,” she told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “It could have been the A/C; it could have been the hot tubs or (something else).”

East Texas fair outbreak: oversight essential

Legionella is naturally found in water, especially warm water. Hot tubs (or spas) that are not cleaned and disinfected often enough can become contaminated with the bacteria, and a person can become infected when they breathe in steam or mist from a contaminated hot tub.

Because high water temperatures make it hard to maintain the disinfectant levels needed to kill germs like Legionella, making sure the hot tub has the right disinfectant and pH levels is essential, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Other human-made environments in which Legionella are found include:

  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • large plumbing systems
  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • swimming pools
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.
East Texas fair outbreak: seek care if sick

If you attended or worked at the East Texas State Fair and are exhibiting Legionnaires’ disease symptoms (see below), NET Health urges you to seek care from your health-care provider.

The disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person – and it is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early enough. If that does not occur, however, it can lead to severe complications.

East Texas fair outbreak: symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection that – according to the CDC – is contracted by an estimated 25,000 Americans yearly. However, because of its nonspecific symptoms, only 5,000 cases are reported.

Symptoms – which usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella – mimic those of pneumonia and even the common flu. Along with cough, fever, and shortness of breath (dyspnea), other symptoms to be concerned about include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • chest pains (called pleurisy or pleuritis)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires in this Chemung County outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Health departments have identified one of the sources in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that sickened 13 people in Chemung County in southern New York, near the Pennsylvania border.

Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, was found in testing samples from a cooling tower at Elmira Heat Treating Inc. in Elmira that infected four of the 13 sickened. The announcement was made by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), working collaboratively with the Chemung County Health Department (CCHD).

WNEY News reported that of the 13 victims, nine were part of the same cluster, and four were separate cases, including one that was confirmed at the Chemung County Nursing Facility. All of those sickened are recovering, according to the CCHD, although the department did not say whether any of the patients required hospitalization.

Chemung County outbreak: Cluster? Outbreak?

The term “cluster” is used if multiple cases of Legionnaires’ disease are linked in time and space but no common source is found. The term “outbreak” is used if a common source is found for the illnesses.

Additionally, the World Health Organization defines an “outbreak” as the “occurrence of cases of disease in excess of what would normally be expected in a defined community, geographical area or season.” This is why this cluster can now be categorized as an outbreak.

Chemung County outbreak: specimens matched

Testing at the NYS DOH’s Wadsworth Center discovered the Legionella specimens from Elmira Heat Treating’s cooling towers were a molecular match to the bacteria found in samples of four of the 13 patients diagnosed in the outbreak. All four were reported to live in the same Elmira neighborhood.

State and county health departments collected samples in the homes of those sickened and from cooling towers in proximity to determine whether there was a common point of exposure.

The inspection revealed that one of Elmira Heat Treating’s three cooling towers has a history of bacterial growth. Still, testing of that tower earlier in the year was within “state acceptable levels” for Legionella. It was not confirmed whether that tower was the same one that tested positive.

The tower infected with the Legionella was taken offline and underwent remediation efforts, including deep cleaning and decontamination.

Elmira Heat Treating Inc. (407 South Kinyon Street) provides heat-treating and metallurgical consulting services.

Chemung County outbreak: towers a usual suspect

Cooling towers are a common culprit in Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks because they contain large amounts of water and are potential breeding grounds for Legionella, if they are not properly disinfected and maintained. Water within cooling towers is heated via heat exchange, which creates an ideal environment for heat-loving Legionella to multiply.

As the cooling tower moves air through a recirculated water system, it releases a “considerable amount of water vapor” into the atmosphere, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If that water vapor contains Legionella, people can develop Legionnaires’ disease, which is contracted when people inhale microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist).

Chemung County outbreak: oversight needed

Hospitals and nursing homes are required to bolster oversight of building water systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to harmful Legionella, but there is little regulatory oversight of apartments, hotels, and other non-medical buildings, such as Elmira Heat Treating.

“There’s not a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” said Elliot Olsen, who has filed Legionnaires lawsuits on behalf of patients and their families for more than two decades. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”

Chemung County outbreak: disease symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States every year. However, because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms, only 5,000 cases are reported.

Legionnaires – also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella. It frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, other symptoms generally develop, including:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.

A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease — known as Pontiac fever — can produce similar symptoms, such as fever, chills, headaches, and muscle aches. Pontiac fever, however, doesn’t infect the lungs.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires in one of these Hot Springs outbreaks, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is dealing with a pair of unrelated Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks: one at a senior residence, the other at a historic bathhouse that resulted in the death of a victim.

The ADH informed tenants of a Hot Springs apartment complex that two residents contracted Legionnaires’ disease, the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record reported.

Garland Towers & Garden Apartments residents were notified by health officials after the second illness was confirmed. Health department protocols call for public notification after two or more cases are reported at the same address in a three-month period.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, ADH medical director for immunizations, confirmed the cases were reported to the agency by medical professionals who treated the tenants.

The Garland Towers & Garden Apartments at 126 Oriole Street is a low-income housing apartment for seniors subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Hot Springs, which is also known as Spa City, is a resort city located at the eastern edge of the Ouachita Mountains. It is set among several natural hot springs, thus the name.

Hot Springs outbreaks: positive test

A public records request by the Sentinel-Record uncovered preliminary test results last month that showed the presence of Legionella bacteria DNA in some of the samples collected. Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory illness that is contracted when people inhale microscopic, aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist) contaminated with Legionella.

Dillaha said further testing is needed to confirm if the bacteria are viable – that is, capable of being the cause of the illnesses.

“It doesn’t tell us if those bacteria are dead or alive,” she told the Sentinel-Record, explaining that Legionella is regularly found in water and mostly harmless if deprived of the proper living conditions. “We don’t know if it’s viable or not. We’re interested to see if it’s live bacteria. That takes time. They have to be cultured on a special medium with a petri dish with special food for them to grow.”

Hot Springs outbreaks: showers banned

Last month, building owners on Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park were advised to disallow the use of showers connected to thermal water sources after Legionella were detected at Quapaw Baths & Spa. The decision was made after three cases of Legionnaires’ disease were confirmed in out-of-town visitors, one of whom died.

The recommendation of the National Park Service Office of Public Health was made in coordination with the ADH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hot Springs National Park includes 47 hot springs and eight historic bathhouses along Central Avenue, including Quapaw at 413 Central Avenue on the southwestern slope of Hot Springs Mountain.

The Spa City bathhouse shuttered its shower area and initiated chlorination of its baths after Legionella was indicated in early October. An initial test in August also returned a positive result, but follow-up testing proved that false.

Quapaw Baths & Spa is less than 1.5 miles from Garland Towers & Garden Apartments.

Hot Springs outbreaks: water temps to blame

Dillaha said the contaminated water at Quapaw came from a hot spring that was cooled before going to the showers and baths. Water that comes directly from the hot spring is too hot for bacteria to survive, she said.

“The water supplies that are at risk … are largely thermal waters that have been cooled, or altered in some way,” ADH chief medical officer Dr. Gary Wheeler said. “If the temperature falls low enough, there’s a risk that the Legionella bacteria can survive, so that can be picked up in a number of ways.”

Said Dillaha: “Any building that has a complex water system – like a hotel or a hospital or a cruise ship – is vulnerable to having this organism grow because the waters are warm enough for it to grow but not hot enough to kill it.”

Hot Springs outbreaks: symptoms

Officials said the park’s facilities and businesses remain open and continue to offer guest services, but anyone who tests positive for legionellosis should inform the ADH as soon as possible at 501-537-8969.

(Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases caused by Legionella: Legionnaires’ disease, which is also called Legionella pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a less-severe illness that does not affect the lungs.)

If you live at or have visited the Garland Towers & Garden Apartments or you visited the Quapaw Baths & Spa within the past two months and you are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider.

The onset of symptoms, which usually occurs two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, generally involves:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, or dyspnea
  • chest pains, or pleurisy or pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.
Hot Springs outbreaks: oversight lacking

Hospitals and nursing homes are required to provide rigorous oversight of building water systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to Legionella. There is, however, little regulatory oversight of apartments, hotels, and other non-medical buildings.

“There’s not a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” said attorney Elliot Olsen, who has spearheaded Legionnaires lawsuits for more than 20 years. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires in this Mount Carmel East outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Another patient infected with Legionnaires’ disease has been discovered by officials at Mount Carmel East, the third Legionnaires case at the Columbus, Ohio, hospital in less than in a week.

Mount Carmel Health System released the following statement:

“Working with local health officials, we’ve determined at least three possible healthcare-associated cases of Legionnaires’ disease in individuals who recently received treatment at Mount Carmel East. We are partnering with Columbus Public Health (CPH) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), in conjunction with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), to identify the source of bacteria.

“While these are currently identified as possible healthcare-associated cases, we are taking every precaution to protect our patients, staff, and visitors, including installing temporary state-of-the-art water filters. We are running additional tests on water sources throughout the hospital, and our water supply is undergoing additional chlorination. We’re confident that we can safely maintain full services of the hospital while we study this situation.”

Earlier this week, CPH released that the first two patients were an 87-year-old man from Franklin County and a 92-year-old woman from Licking County. No other information was released on the three patients.

Mount Carmel East outbreak: source unknown

The source of the Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, has yet to be located, although environmental testing is ongoing, and water restrictions are being enforced.

A 2015 study by the CDC stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”

According to the CDC, better water-management programs “identify hazardous conditions and include taking steps to minimize the growth and spread of Legionella in building water systems. Having a water management program is now an industry standard for large buildings in the United States.”

Mount Carmel East outbreak: high risk

Mount Carmel Health System officials emphasized that the “risk of developing the disease is low for most.” Healthy people exposed to Legionella usually do not get sick, but people 50 years old and older – especially those who smoke or have chronic lung conditions – are at a higher risk.

Other people more susceptible to infection include:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

This list also includes anyone with an immune system weakened by:

  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections
  • organ inflammation and infection
  • blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia
  • digestive problems, such as cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea, and nausea
  • delayed growth and development.

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death – and about 10 percent of those infected will die from the infection.

Mount Carmel East outbreak: more woes

This is the third Legionella issue to affect the Mount Carmel Health System this year:

Mount Carmel Grove City: The first, announced May 31, occurred at this hospital in suburban Columbus. Franklin County Public Health confirmed 16 patients were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and one victim died. The outbreak occurred a little more than a month after the seven-floor, $361 million hospital opened on April 28.

Trinity Health, the Michigan-based parent company of the Mount Carmel Health System, traced the infectious Legionella to the facility’s hot water system. Officials said the contamination was the result of “inadequate disinfection,” and they admitted they failed to adequately re-test and re-clean the water supply on particular floors before the hospital opened.

Cricket Miller of Grove City said her grandmother was one of the patients diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. After learning about the Mount Carmel East outbreak, Miller was interviewed by NBC4i.com. “The whole thing is very frustrating,” she said. “It’s maddening, and it’s disgusting that the possibility that another one of the Mount Carmel facilities could’ve had a Legionella outbreak after what we saw over the summer with Mount Carmel Grove City.”

Mount Carmel College of Nursing: In August, the Mount Carmel Health System’s other struggle with Legionella occurred at the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. Officials said elevated levels of the bacteria were detected in the water supply at Marian Hall on the Carmel College of Nursing’s Franklinton campus. Construction disrupted the building’s water supply, and subsequent water tests uncovered the presence of the bacterium. Health officials reported no illnesses.

Mount Carmel East outbreak: symptoms

You should seek care from your health-care provider if you are or were a patient at Mount Carmel East, an employee of, or recent visitor to the hospital, and are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms.

The onset of symptoms, which usually occurs two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, generally includes:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath also called dyspnea
  • chest pains also called pleurisy or pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases caused by Legionella: Legionnaires’ disease, which is also called Legionella pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a less-severe illness that does not affect the lungs.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at the East Texas State Fair, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Health officials are investigating the East Texas State Fair as the source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, a situation that mirrors a recent outbreak in North Carolina.

The Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health) announced that seven confirmed and five possible cases of the pneumonia-like illness had been identified, all of which are likely tied to the East Texas State Fair, which ran from Sept. 20 to Sept. 29 in Tyler.

Fair officials said more than 257,000 people attended the 10-day event.

Investigators determined that all the patients attended the fair, NET Health CEO George Roberts said.

East Texas State Fair:
Small start for NC outbreak

On Sept. 24, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported an outbreak infecting nine people, one of whom died, all connected to the Mountain State Fair in Fletcher.

A month later, the legionellosis case count in that outbreak hit 142, including 134 with Legionnaires’ disease and four deaths. (Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases caused by Legionella bacteria: Legionnaires’ disease, which is also called Legionella pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a less-severe illness.)

Health officials said the probable source of the North Carolina outbreak was a hot tub display at the fair.

East Texas State Fair:
Searching for more

NET Health’s Disease Surveillance Division is working with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), event organizers, and local health departments to investigate the East Texas outbreak and pinpoint a source for the Legionella.

NET Health has released an advisory to area health-care professionals to be on the lookout for additional cases.

“Clinicians should consider legionellosis in patients who attended the East Texas State Fair and present with symptoms consistent with Legionnaires’ disease,” the advisory reads.

Roberts told the Tyler Morning Telegraph, “We want (doctors) to specifically ask any patient with the symptoms whether they were at the fair.”

East Texas State Fair:
About Legionnaires

If you attended or worked at the East Texas State Fair and are exhibiting any Legionnaires’ disease symptoms (see below), NET Health urges you to seek care from your health-care provider immediately.

Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person. The condition is treatable with antibiotics, but it must be diagnosed early. That is the key. If that does not occur, it can lead to severe complications.

Symptoms – which usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella – mimic those of pneumonia and even the common flu. Along with cough, fever, and shortness of breath (dyspnea), other symptoms to be concerned about include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • chest pains (called pleurisy or pleuritis)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Legionnaires’ disease often is overlooked or undiagnosed because of its vague symptoms, the CDC says.

East Texas State Fair:
Individuals most at risk

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by inhaling microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist). People 50 years old and older – especially smokers or those with a chronic lung condition, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, most commonly bronchitis and emphysema) – are more susceptible to developing the illness.

Other high-risk people include:

  • anyone with a compromised immune system
  • organ-transplant recipients
  • anyone on a specific drug protocol (for example, corticosteroids)
  • alcoholics.
East Texas State Fair:
Convention Center cleared

The Harvey Convention Center has been ruled out as a possible source. The center was used for numerous events during the fair, including the marketplace and photography shows, both of which occur throughout the entire run of the 10-day event.

“NET Health and state officials conducted an investigation of the facility to test the water sources at Harvey Hall as the disease is spread through water particles,” NET Health’s statement read. “Public health officials confirmed the facility came back negative for any conditions that would allow for Legionnaires’ disease to be present.”

East Texas State Fair CEO John Sykes said he was made aware of reported cases by NET Health, and he is working with the organization to determine the source. “We’ve got to find the source,” Sykes told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “This is a real surprise to us.”

Health officials are looking at all water sources throughout the fairgrounds, including hot tubs, humidifiers, food vendors, and all buildings in use during the fair.

Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at Ochsner Medical Center, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Ochsner Health System officials reported two patients at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, also known as Legionella pneumonia.

No information was released on the condition of the patients, whether they were diagnosed at the Jefferson Highway hospital, still admitted to the hospital, or when the illnesses were diagnosed.

“Preliminary environmental test results detected Legionella bacteria at OMC–Jefferson Highway,” according to a statement released by Ochsner on its website. “The cultures obtained lead us to believe the bacteria were from isolated fixtures and not in our water system.”

Ochsner Medical Center outbreak: stagnant water?

A person contracts Legionella bacteria by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • whirlpools and hot tubs
  • swimming pools
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.

Warm, stagnant water provides the right conditions for growth, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The organism can multiply at temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and temps of 90 degrees to 105 degrees are optimal for that to occur.

A 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”

Ochsner Medical Center outbreak: remediation

A statement from hospital officials emphasized: “These cases have not been confirmed to have been acquired at OMC–Jefferson Highway.”

Still, those officials also said that precautionary steps are being enacted to ensure a safe environment for OMC’s patients, visitors, and staff:

  • Extensive water testing is in progress across all of OMC–Jefferson Highway and will be ongoing for at least one year. OMC tests routinely as part of its water-management plan.
  • OMC is implementing a response plan to remove any bacterial strains that could be in the water system.
  • The rooms where the patients received care were taken out of service.
  • OMC is augmenting its mechanical water delivery systems where appropriate.
  • OMC’s Infection Prevention department will assess all patients at risk of pneumonia for Legionella and recommend additional testing when appropriate to the attending physicians.
  • OMC is partnering closely with the Office of Public Health for its expertise and resources.

Ochsner Medical Center outbreak: seek help if ill

Current or recent patients, visitors to the hospital, and employees of OMC–Jefferson Highway should seek care from your health-care provider if you are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms.

Symptoms often can be mistaken for common flu, and they usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella. 

Because many symptoms are similar to those of flu or pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease often is overlooked or undiagnosed, leading to it being underreported, according to the CDC.

For Legionnaires’ disease to be classified correctly, specific testing and diagnosis must be done from a Legionnaires-specific standpoint, and those tests often are not ordered. It is not required for physicians to order Legionella-specific testing when a patient presents with pneumonia.

Ochsner Medical Center outbreak: symptoms

Initial symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, or dyspnea
  • chest pains, or pleurisy and pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.
Ochsner Medical Center outbreak: more on Legionnaires
  • Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases caused by Legionella bacteria: Legionnaires’ disease, which is also called Legionella pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a less-severe illness.
  • Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.
  • An average of 31 legionellosis cases has been reported in Louisiana since 2008, according to the Louisiana Department of Health’s 2018 Louisiana Health Report Card. Except for an outbreak in 1989, there generally has been an increasing trend in legionellosis reports from 1990 to 2017, with a peak in 2014.
  • In 1989, there was a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Bogalusa, Louisiana, that resulted in 33 illnesses, including eight deaths. The source of those infections was identified as a grocery store’s ultrasound mist device, which created a fine mist that was more easily inhaled than the larger droplets put out by standard mist machines. It was the first known outbreak linked to a misting device, according to health officials.