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The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) released a public health advisory regarding a Bangor cluster of six Legionnaires’ disease cases since November.

The cluster of cases, which has resulted in one death, has occurred at a rate higher than average for the area, prompting the advisory.

The Maine CDC investigation is attempting to identify if there is a single source of the Legionella bacteria in Penobscot County to determine whether the cases are connected. Legionella is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires, which is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection.

The six individuals, all of whom were hospitalized, live in the greater Bangor area and range in age from 50 to 85. It has not been determined whether Legionnaires was the cause of death of the man who passed, according to Jackie Farwell, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

“Maine CDC is announcing this investigation to make the public aware, but residents in the area do not need to take any specific actions in response,” Farwell said. “Maine CDC has alerted area health-care providers so they can consider testing for the illness, which could lead to the identification of additional cases. All cases must be reported to Maine CDC.”

Over the past five years, Penobscot County has averaged three Legionella cases per year. The state of Maine reported 33 cases in 2018. There were almost 7,500 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States in 2017.

Bangor is the county seat of Penobscot County and Maine’s third-largest city behind Portland and Lewiston.

Bangor cluster: Outbreak? Cluster?

When multiple cases are reported around the same proximity and within a designated period, the terms “cluster” and “outbreak” are used. The term “community-acquired” is used when there are no commonalities; these kinds of cases are the most common.

If two or more illnesses occurred in the same general vicinity within a period of three to 12 months, the term “cluster” would be used, such as the occurrence of six cases in Bangor in such a short period.

If two or more cases are reported within days or weeks, rather than months, and occurred in a more limited geographic area – meaning officials can pinpoint a specific area where illnesses occurred – then the term “outbreak” would be used. The CDC would reclassify the Bangor cluster as an outbreak if a common source can be identified for two or more of the illnesses.

Bangor cluster: Testing uncovers Legionella

Environmental water testing by Maine CDC revealed detectable levels of Legionella in samples from the Orono-Veazie Water District (OVWD), a water utility company located in Orono that provides water for Orono and Veazie, neighboring cities of Bangor. Maine health officials confirmed that chlorine would be added to eliminate the bacteria.

Thus far, the strain of Legionella found in the Orono-Veazie Water District’s system isn’t connected to the six cases that are part of the Bangor cluster.

“Customers of the Orono-Veazie Water District may smell chlorine in their water,” Farwell told the Bangor Daily News. “This increased level of chlorine is not harmful, and the water remains safe to drink and use. Residents in the area do not need to take any action in response to the test results or higher chlorine levels.”

Maine CDC officials also assured residents that Legionella is not contracted by drinking water, so they should not avoid drinking water from this water district.

Up to 1995, when the OVWD water-treatment facility and water delivery system became fully operational, both cities had previously purchased their water supply from the Bangor Water District.

Bangor cluster: New CDC director

Dr. Nirav Shah took over as director of the Maine CDC in June. Previously, Shah was director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, where he was at the center of a Legionnaires’ disease controversy involving the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. State senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth called for Shah to resign his position after 15 veterans were killed and more than 60 were sickened during outbreaks that began in 2015 and spanned four consecutive years. During the first outbreak, there were more than 50 illnesses and 12 deaths.

Shah was Illinois’ director from 2015 until this February.

Bangor cluster: About 25,000 cases annually

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States yearly. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms.

Anyone can contract Legionnaires’ disease, 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.
Bangor cluster: Legionnaires symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

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

By the second or third day, other signs and symptoms 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.

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Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Legionnaires’ disease outbreak has shut down the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel after at least five guests were diagnosed with the potentially deadly respiratory illness.

The Sheraton Atlanta, which is located at 165 Courtland Street NE in downtown Atlanta, has been closed for precautionary reasons while an investigation is conducted into the outbreak. The Fulton County Board of Health (BOH) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) are working jointly with hotel officials to determine the source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, an atypical pneumonia.

“The health and safety of our guests is our greatest priority,” Sheraton general manager Ken Peduzzi said in a written statement. “We are working closely with public health officials and outside experts to conduct testing to determine if Legionella is present at the hotel. As a result, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to close the hotel while we await the results.”

The hotel is expected to be closed for at least two weeks until testing is completed. No other locations are being investigated.

The individuals sickened were guests at the hotel in late June and early July. It is believed all were attending the same conference at the hotel.

Hotel officials learned of the first two cases last Friday. Three additional cases have since been confirmed, and one news source reported that six people have been sickened.

Sheraton Atlanta: pool area closed

On advice from DPH epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek, the hotel immediately closed off the pool area, which is considered the most likely source of Legionella.

“Because they (the guests) were so tightly clustered, we made some immediate control recommendations,” Drenzek said to 11Alive.com. “To be cautious, to be conservative – let’s close down those water fixtures so that we’re not posing anyone else to be at risk of Legionella infections.”

Sheraton Atlanta: about Legionnaires

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection that – according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the U.S. yearly. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms.

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

Warm, stagnant water provides the right conditions for growth of Legionella, which can multiply at temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sheraton Atlanta: guests relocated

About 450 guests were relocated to nearby hotels Monday after hotel officials decided to close the hotel. Guests with future reservations will be assisted in finding other accommodations.

The DPH is contacting every person who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta in June and July.  Drenzek also issued an alert to health departments in other states to be on the lookout for Legionnaires cases that might have originated at the Sheraton Atlanta.

Sheraton Atlanta: disease symptoms

The DPH recommends that guests, visitors to, or employees of the Sheraton Atlanta who are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms seek care from their health-care provider. Symptoms usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, and they frequently begin with:

  • 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
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Anyone can get the disease, 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, such as COPD (most commonly, bronchitis or emphysema)
  • people with weakened immune systems.
Sheraton Atlanta: busy August

The Sheraton Atlanta is one of five host hotels for the 33rd Annual Dragon Con, the largest convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, comics, literature, art, music, and film, slated to take place Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.

More than 80,000 visitors are expected to pass through the Sheraton Atlanta throughout Labor Day weekend

Dragon Con organizers said they are working with the hotel’s management to “understand the situation, the solutions, and the timeframes involved.” Organizers said they are optimistic the hotel will be fully operational by Aug. 29.

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Two Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are under investigation by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health), one in Manhattan and the other in Queens.

NYC Health confirmed two cases of the respiratory illness at Manhattan Plaza (400 West 43rd Street) in Hell’s Kitchen, although no information was provided on when the residents took ill.

NYC Health also reported that two people have been sickened in Queens within the past 12 months at 20-02, 20-04, 20-06, 20-08, 20-10 and 20-12 Seagirt Boulevard, according to a notice posted on Twitter.

“The risk of getting sick from a building’s water system is very low, especially for healthy people” according to NYC Health commissioner Oxiris Barbot, in a notice to tenants. “The most important thing you can do is get medical attention right away if you start having symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough. This is even more important if you are aged 50 or older (especially if you smoke cigarettes), have chronic lung disease, have a weakened immune system or take medicines that weaken your immune system.”

The notice also provided the following list of Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DON’T take a shower – not even a cool shower – since it could create water vapor (mist). Instead, take a bath, but fill the tub slowly. Try to minimize time in the bathroom while the tub is filling. If you don’t have a bathtub, either take a sponge bath or contact building management for a modified shower option.
  • DO: It’s fine to wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating a mist.
  • DO: It’s fine to drink cold water from the tap, but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee or cooking.
  • DON’T wear a mask. It’s unnecessary.

NYC Health is working with building management at both locations, testing the water to try and locate a source for the Legionella, which is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

Manhattan Plaza is located two blocks west of the city’s theater district and has been dubbed “Broadway’s Bedroom,” as 70 percent of the building’s nearly 1,700 units are occupied by performing artists, with the balance held by elderly tenants and residents living in subsidized housing.

NYC outbreaks: woes across state

Since July of last year, New York City has battled numerous outbreaks, including these incidents:

  • The Brielle at Seaview, a non-profit, assisted-living facility for seniors on Staten Island, suffered an outbreak last month when a second case of the disease was diagnosed within eight months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a Legionnaires’ disease “outbreak” as two or more cases associated with the same possible source during a 12-month period.
  • In February, NYC Health confirmed that two cases of  Legionnaires’ disease occurred at the Bronx River Houses within the past year.
  • Two cases of Legionnaires also were confirmed last November and December at Park Slope’s New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.
  • The Sugar Hill Project was confirmed as the source for two outbreaks in upper Manhattan in 2018, outbreaks that resulted in two deaths and almost 60 people sickened.
  • In October 2018, Legionella was detected at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence in Long Island City after a second Legionnaires’ disease case was confirmed within the last year.
  • In July 2018, two individuals were diagnosed with Legionnaires at Clinton Manor, a housing development in Hell’s Kitchen.
NYC outbreaks: warm water problematic

According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (scientific name: Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States every year. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

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

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can occur, including:

  • respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • septic shock: this can occur when Legionella produce 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 strength 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.
NYC outbreaks: disease symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

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

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

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain (pleurisy)
  • 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.

Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients who have been harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you are one of the Maryland transit workers who contracted Legionnaires, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Two Maryland Transportation Authority employees contracted Legionnaires’ disease, compelling MTA officials to close the administration building at the Interstate 895/Baltimore Harbor Tunnel toll plaza.

In addition, MTA officials automated the toll booths after learning of the two cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially deadly form of bacterial pneumonia. The MTA said in a statement that the two employees have received medical treatment.

Said Pete Rahn, who serves as both MTA chairman and state transportation secretary: “While there’s no confirmation that the building is the source of the illness, we believe the safety of our employees and visitors to the administration building dictates that we close the facility while tests are conducted.”

Legionnaires’ disease occurs when Legionella bacteria are inhaled in the form of microscopic water droplets, such as vapor or mist. Legionella thrive in warm water and are found primarily in human-made environments (see below).

Maryland transit workers: tolls automated

Most of the MTA employees who work at the administrative building and the toll plaza have been put on administrative leave, and some are working from other MTA sites.

The cash-payment lanes are now automated, operating like cashless toll lanes. That means that drivers who do not have E-ZPass transponders may drive without stopping, and the state will capture video of the vehicles and send bills for the toll amount.

MTA officials said they are proactively treating water systems at the site, adding that they do not know how long employees will be kept from the site.

Maryland Department of Health (MDH) statistics show that there were 361 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the state in 2018.

Maryland transit workers: difficult diagnosis

Legionnaires’ disease – also known as Legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that, on average, there are about 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (scientific name: Legionella pneumophila) annually in the United States. Only about 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms, which at the outset usually include:

  • severe headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills and fever.

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

  • cough, which often produces mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • pleurisy, which causes severe chest pain (pleuritic pain)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • confusion.
Maryland transit workers: high-risk groups

Anyone can become sick with Legionnaires’ disease, but people with the greatest risk of infection include:

  • anyone over the age of 50
  • anyone who smokes or has smoked
  • anyone with a chronic lung disease, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, most commonly emphysema or bronchitis)
  • alcoholics.

The list also includes anyone with an immune system compromised because of:

  • frequent and recurring pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, meningitis, and skin infections
  • inflammation or infection of the organs
  • blood disorders, such as anemia or low platelet counts
  • delayed growth and development.
Maryland transit workers: hot spots

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), warm, stagnant water provides the right conditions for Legionella bacteria to grow. The bacteria can multiply at temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures of 90 degrees to 105 degrees provide the optimal conditions for growth.

The types of environments best suited to produce Legionella-friendly conditions – and which would apply in this situation – are:

  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • large plumbing systems
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets.
Maryland transit workers: serious consequences

The severity of Legionnaires’ disease is illustrated in an Epidemiology & Infection study from the University of Minnesota. Based on data from the CDC and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), “approximately 9 percent of legionellosis cases, caused by waterborne Legionella bacteria, are fatal, and 40 percent require intensive care.”

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Legionella returns to Wayne State

Wayne State University in Detroit has shut down the cooling tower in the Old Main building on campus after elevated levels of Legionella bacteria were identified during routine testing, university officials said.

There have been no reports of any illnesses at the Detroit location due to the bacteria, according to WSU spokesperson Matt Lockwood, but the towers are being temporarily shut down to prevent a possible outbreak.

“In the course of ongoing, routine testing, we discovered elevated levels of Legionella in the Old Main cooling tower,” William R. Decatur, vice president of finance and business operations, was quoted in a university-wide email. “When this occurs, university protocol dictates that the cooling towers are immediately taken off-line so they can be disinfected and cleaned.”

Detroit locations: Legionella issues last year

In late May 2018, a WSU employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and a month later, in late June, two construction contractors working on campus apartments took ill with the pneumonia-like illness

Subsequent environmental testing detected the bacteria in three cooling towers and three bathrooms. Legionella were found in the cooling towers at the Towers Residential Suites, Purdy/Kresge Library, and the College of Education Building, as well as in bathrooms in the Faculty Administration Building, Scott Hall, and the Cohn Building.

Legionella found at Ford plant

Low levels of Legionella were found at Ford Motor Company’s Ford Rouge Center in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit. The results were confirmed by Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker.

The company released the information after media reports surfaced that the car manufacturer sent letters to employees informing them of the discovery of the bacteria in three locations at the plant: two restrooms and the medical department.

Detroit locations: Statement from Ford officials

“We take the safety of our workforce very seriously. We regularly test for Legionella out of an abundance of caution, and (we) have a comprehensive, industry-leading, water-quality management process that includes steps to take if Legionella bacteria are found.

“The Ford protocol is more stringent than federal guidelines. Following that process, in each of those cases, we immediately disinfected the equipment where the bacteria were found. The level of Legionella detected in our recent sampling is very low and does not present a health risk to our workforce. We are not aware of any employees that have contracted the bacteria.”

As many as 6,000 employees work at the 600-acre site where the F-150 and F-150 Raptor pickup trucks are built. The Rouge is Ford’s largest single industrial complex. At its peak in the 1930s, more than 100,000 people worked at the complex.

In December 2017, a “low concentration” of bacteria was found in the cooling tower at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, after an employee was confirmed with Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires info

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur yearly in the U.S. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of its nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Approximately one in 10 patients infected with Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – will die from the infection.

Detroit locations: high-risk groups

Anyone can get the disease, but those with the highest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 years old or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], most commonly bronchitis or emphysema)
  • people with weakened immune systems (those suffering from conditions such as diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, or infected with HIV)
  • organ-transplant recipients (kidney, heart, etc.)
  • individuals following specific drug protocols (for instance, corticosteroids)

Even relatively healthy individuals have been known to contract the disease, although less typically.

Detroit locations: common symptoms

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease look like other forms of pneumonia or even flu, which is why so many cases go unreported every year. Early symptoms can include the following:

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

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

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

(Note: There is also a mild form of Legionnaires’ disease called Pontiac fever, which can produce similar symptoms that include fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn’t infect the lungs, however, and symptoms usually manifest within two to five days.)

Detroit locations: Legionella sources

The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments. Outbreaks have been linked to numerous sources, such as:

  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • large plumbing systems
  • water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • showers and faucets
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.

People also can contract Legionnaires’ disease by the aspiration of contaminated drinking water – that is, choking or coughing while drinking can cause water to go down the wrong pipe into the lungs. It’s also possible to contract Legionnaires’ disease from home plumbing systems, although the vast majority of outbreaks have occurred in large buildings because complex systems allow the bacteria to grow and spread more quickly.

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The Delaware General Health District (DGHD) is investigating a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease at a nursing home north of Columbus, Ohio, the third Columbus-area care facility dealing with a Legionella issue in the past three months.

Inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor causes the absorption of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection.

Members from the DGHD’s “environmental health division staff and a certified plumbing inspector” visited Country-View of Sunbury Nursing & Rehabilitation Center to “identify the possible sources to the bacteria, conducting environmental sampling for Legionella and recommending remediation strategies to prevent further transmission,” according to DGHD’s press release.

Citing privacy concerns, the facility released no additional information on the resident’s condition. Country-View is working with the health department to identify other residents at risk for infection.

The Ohio Department of Health is assisting in the investigation.

Country-View, located at 14961 North Old 3C Road in Sunbury, north of Columbus, has implemented water-use restrictions to minimize possible exposure to the disease, which included decreasing contact with water aerosol sources, such as faucets and shower heads.

Residents at higher risk
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, the disease’s nonspecific symptoms cause the reporting of only 5,000 cases.

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the most significant risk of infection include:

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

Columbus prison hit again

An inmate at Franklin Medical Center (FMC) in Columbus was hospitalized in late June after contracting Legionnaires’ disease. The illness is the fifth Legionnaires case reported at the corrections medical center since 2017.

According to reports, the 69-year-old prisoner is in stable, non-life-threatening condition at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with the bacterial pneumonia.

The patient experienced two days of nausea and vomiting in FMC’s Zone B minimum security prison facility before being transferred to the OSU hospital.

Legionnaires symptoms
Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. 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 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 in other parts of the body, including the heart.

Zone B investigated
Franklin hospital officials are trying to identify the source of the Legionella.

Zone B, which was known previously as the Franklin Pre-Release Center, houses 364 cadre and medical high-acuity inmates. The prison’s department confirmed its flushing and hyper-chlorinating Zone B’s showers and water system.

“We’re in there testing the water – the shower areas where the individual, we think, was exposed, and all the other dorms on that site as well to ensure that we’re getting a good test of the water,” said Kevin Runyon, state corrections medical director. “And after that, we’ll run it through a hyper-chlorination process.”

Fourth Mount Carmel lawsuit filed

After a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak infected 16 people – and killed one – at Mount Carmel Grove City hospital in suburban Columbus, four lawsuits have been filed against the hospital, which opened in April.

The latest suit was filed July 2 by James Lawton, who alleges he contracted the disease in late May. The suit names Mount Carmel Health System, Mount Carmel’s parent company Trinity Health, and others.

Also filing suit:

  • June 11: Martin J. Brown, 71, of Orient in Pickaway County. He contracted the disease after undergoing heart surgery at Mount Carmel.
  • June 14: Anna Hillis, 59, of Grove Grove filed a negligence lawsuit. She contracted the disease after visiting her brother-in-law at the hospital.
  • June 27: The family of Deanna “Dee” Rezes filed a wrongful death lawsuit after Rezes died after being diagnosed with Legionnaires while a patient at the hospital. The lawsuit revealed a urine test looking for Legionella had to be reordered because the original was canceled or not processed.

Officials for the health system and its parent company, Michigan-based Trinity Health, confirmed in late June that the hospital did not adequately disinfect its water supply, contributing to the outbreak.

“Tests received this week from May 23 through June 1 showed significant Legionella bacteria were in our hot-water system at the time,” Mount Carmel officials said in a statement. “We believe the bacteria are linked to inadequate disinfection prior to Mount Carmel Grove City’s opening,”

The 16 people sickened range in age from 48 to 90 years old, including a 75-year-old woman who died. Eleven of the 16 were patients, four were hospital visitors, and one was an employee; 14 required hospitalization.

Franklin County Public Health officials said the exposures occurred between April 27 and May 31.

Since the outbreak, Mount Carmel has taken numerous steps to reduce the risk of more infections, including:

  • installing a permanent supplemental disinfection system, with 24/7 monitoring and controls, which continuously adds chloramine to the water supply;
  • updating protocols to include daily flushing of every patient room (occupied or unoccupied);
  • and the disinfection and cleaning of the cooling tower.

Sick with Legionnaires?
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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at a Chicago hospital, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is investigating an outbreak of four cases of Legionnaires’ disease associated with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, a suburb of Chicago.

The outbreak is the third at a Chicago-area hospital in three months. In May, the IDPH investigated two cases at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and in April, the department examined two illnesses at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center.

Of the four cases at Advocate Christ, three involved patients at the hospital, while an employee was the other infected. The incidents date to 2018, but two occurred within the past two months, according to the IDPH.

The IDPH is testing the hospital’s water, and hospital officials are working with the state on a water-management plan.

Patients at higher risk
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.”

Most people exposed to Legionella 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 a Legionnaires diagnosis, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe Legionnaires cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Feeling ill? Get tested
The IDPH recommends that patients, visitors to, or employees of Advocate Christ who are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, should seek care from their health-care provider. Symptoms usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria and frequently begin with the following signs:

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


The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Ohio’s Mount Carmel Grove City hospital was traced to the facility’s hot water system and likely was the result of inadequate disinfection, the health system’s parent firm said.

At least 16 patients at the suburban Columbus hospital have been diagnosed with the potentially deadly form of pneumonia, which is caused by inhaling Legionella bacteria in the form of mist or vapor.

One patient – Deanna Rezes, 75, of Grove City – died on June 2. Another filed a lawsuit against the hospital system this week.

The Legionnaires outbreak was announced May 31, a mere month after the seven-floor, $361 million hospital opened. Patients who contracted Legionnaires were exposed sometime between April 27 and May 31, according to Dr. Tammy Lundstrom, chief medical officer for Trinity Health, the hospital’s Michigan-based parent company.

Hot water system:
Restrictions lifted

Water-use restrictions were put in place that prevented patients from showering and forced them to drink bottled water. Those restrictions were lifted late last week after more than 2,000 temporary water filters were installed at the 210-bed hospital. The water system also was flushed and over-chlorinated.

Mount Carmel Grove City’s long-term plan to prevent further Legionella issues is in place and includes extensive testing and a secondary water-treatment system, which constantly adds a small dose of disinfectant into the water.

Portions of the hospital’s water system were disinfected in February, and other areas were disinfected in April. The areas that were disinfected in February weren’t done again before the hospital opened, said Tim Keane, a Legionella expert and consultant for the hospital.

Hot water system:
First case May 15

The first case of Legionnaires’ disease was reported to Mount Carmel Grove City officials on May 15, Lundstrom said. Within a week, there were three possible cases associated with the hospital.

Because those who got sick weren’t in the hospital during the entire two-week period in which the disease develops, Lundstrom said they were considered “possible cases.” The hospital alerted Franklin County Public Health (FCPH), and “then as these things evolved, we determined we had an outbreak occurring with the facility,” Lundstrom said.

As for whether Mount Carmel should have made a declaration of an outbreak before May 31, at which point there were seven confirmed cases, Lundstrom said the health system followed the guidelines in place for investigating individual cases. It also relied on the health department to make that decision, she said.

“It’s not uncommon to see sporadic cases that have nothing to do with being in a health-care facility,” Lundstrom said.

Legionella is naturally found in water but can become problematic when it spreads into a building’s water system and spreads to shower stalls, faucets, drinking fountains, and ice machines.

Franklin County had the highest number of Legionella cases in Ohio in 2018.

Hot water system:
About Legionnaires

Anyone can contract Legionnaires’ disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 years old or older
  • smokers, current and former
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

After the disease has been diagnosed, if the patient is not already hospitalized, then hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications like the following can occur:

  • respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • septic shock: this can occur when Legionella produce toxins that enter the blood stream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to 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.

Hot water system:
Disease symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, and it frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • chills and fever.

By the second or third day, other symptoms 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 in other parts of the body, including the heart.

Sick with Legionnaires?
Call (612) 337-6126
Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at The Brielle at Seaview, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a non-profit, assisted-living facility for seniors in New York City is under investigation after a resident was confirmed with the serious form of pneumonia this month, the second such diagnosis since November.

(Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a Legionnaires “outbreak” as two or more cases associated with the same possible source during a 12-month period.)

The latest illness comes nearly two months after the city lifted a five-month-old water restriction at The Brielle at Seaview, located at 140 Friendship Lane on Staten Island. The restriction prevented many of the residents from showering after the first case was diagnosed last year. Those restrictions have been reinstated by the NYC Department of Health (DOH) until the facility has been cleared again.

Tests show Legionella

The DOH said recent testing of the facility’s water supply indicated the presence of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Additional testing will be performed after remediation and hyper-chlorination efforts are completed.

After the November diagnosis, officials at The Brielle at Seaview installed a $50,000 supplemental disinfectant system that cost $15,000 to install. The electronic system was designed for 24/7 monitoring of bacteria and chlorine levels in the facility’s water system and alert management of abnormalities.

No information was released on whether the system performed effectively.

Third time in four years

“The Health Department and building management are promptly alerting guests of the situation,” read a statement from the DOH, “and providing guidance on how to prevent exposure, especially for those at higher risk for the disease.”

Officials for The Brielle at Seaview issued the following statement: “The health and safety of its residents is the Brielle’s foremost priority, which is why it spared no expense investing in state-of-the-art technology to ensure the facility’s water is of the highest possible quality and took immediate steps to remediate the water supply as soon as it was notified that one of its residents had fallen ill.”

This marks the third time a resident at The Brielle at Seaview has been diagnosed with the respiratory illness since the facility opened on Nov. 3, 2015. In November 2016, a resident was confirmed with the disease, and low levels of Legionella were found in subsequent testing.

Steps to limit exposure

Residents, employees, and visitors to The Brielle at Seaview should exercise these precautions until the water restriction has been lifted:

  • Do NOT take a shower, even a cool shower, since a shower could create a water mist (or vapor). Use the shower facilities in the commons building or take a sponge bath.
  • It is OK to brush teeth, wash hands, or wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating a mist.
  • It is OK to drink cold water from the tap, but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee, or cooking. You cannot get Legionnaires’ disease by drinking water.
  • You are NOT required to wear a mask.
  • It is IMPORTANT to wash hands.

High-risk demographics

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.”

Although most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, 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.

Symptoms are vague

If you are a resident, visitor or employee of The Brielle at Seaview and are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider. Those symptoms include:

Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at Mount Carmel Grove City, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) was prophetic when it warned that additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease were possible at Mount Carmel Grove City in suburban Columbus: Three new cases were added to the outbreak total, increasing it to 10 at the month-old hospital.

The ODH also announced that one of the original seven patients confirmed with the illness passed away Sunday.

“Currently, we’re working with county and state health officials to identify the source of the bacteria,” read a statement from Dr. Richard Streck, Mount Carmel Health System’s chief clinical operations officer.

“We’ve taken several steps to protect our patients, staff, and visitors, including implementing extensive water restrictions. We are running additional tests on water sources throughout Mount Carmel Grove City, and our entire water supply is undergoing supplemental disinfection. We’re confident that we can safely maintain full services of the hospital.”

Tests show Legionella

Testing determined that Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, was present on the seventh floor and in the emergency room of the $361 million, seven-floor, 200-plus-bed hospital, which opened April 28 in Grove City. The newest hospital in Franklin County is intended to replace the Mount Carmel Health System’s West hospital facility in Franklinton.

Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) confirmed that of the 10 patients diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, six are women and four are men. Ages range between 50 and 90, with an average age of 72. FCPH officials said the exposure date range was from April 27 to May 24.

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.”

Cause for concern

If you were a patient, visitor, or employee of Mount Carmel Grove City during the exposure period and you are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. If you have questions or would like more information about the issue, please contact Mount Carmel Grove City hospital at (614) 265-8111.

Franklin County woes

The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) listed Ohio – along with California, New York City, New York state, and Pennsylvania – as the areas with the highest number of confirmed Legionnaires’ disease cases in 2015 (that was the most recent year data was released). There were nearly 50,000 confirmed Legionnaires’ cases reported to the NNDSS from 2000 to 2015, according to the CDC.

Franklin County reported the highest number of Legionnaires cases in the state last year at 208, according to ODH statistics. Cuyahoga County had the second-highest number of cases at 148, followed by Montgomery County at 58.

Vague symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, and it frequently begins with the following vague symptoms, which are similar to other types of pneumonia as well as influenza (flu):

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • 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 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.

High-risk groups

Most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 and older – especially smokers or people with chronic lung conditions (COPD, for instance) – are at a higher risk.

Other people more susceptible to the bacteria include:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • alcoholics.

The list also includes anyone with an immune system that has been 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.
Dangerous complications

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is usually necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

According to CDC statistics, about one out of every 10 people (10 percent) infected with Legionnaires’ disease will die due to complications from the illness. For patients sickened with the disease during a stay in a health-care facility, about one out of every four (25 percent) will die.