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Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease, and he has regained millions of dollars for them. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease in California, Maryland or Massachusetts, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Water restrictions at Baltimore-area homeless center

The diagnosis of two people with Legionnaires’ disease has caused the Eastern Family Resource Center (EFRC) in Rossville, MD, to order water restrictions at its facility, according to a press release from the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services (BCDH).

“While it is possible that exposure in these cases could have happened somewhere else, in an abundance of caution, the Baltimore County Department of Health is limiting the oral consumption of water and discontinuing the use of showers at this facility,” the release said.

The two individuals who took ill “spent some time at the center,” prompting the water restrictions and environmental testing by the health department. Water tests were performed to determine if the facility is the source of the Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

Water restrictions at Baltimore-area homeless center
Two people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at the Eastern Family Resource Center in suburban Baltimore.

Restrictions in place
The water restrictions were put in place to reduce exposure to aerosolized water, which is how people are infected with Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets, usually in the form of mist or vapor.

Showers are temporarily closed, and bottled water is being supplied to residents, visitors, and employees until testing determines that the facility is safe.

Restrictions could be in place for up to three weeks, according to Elyn Garrett-Jones, a spokesperson for the center.

EFRC less than a year old
The $26 million, 80,000-square-foot, three-floor facility located on the campus of MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center opened in October last year. The EFRC includes expanded homeless and transitional shelters, and community health services, including housing for women and families, serving up to 250 people; a transitional shelter program for women and families, with a capacity of up to 38 people; and a new shelter for men, with a capacity of up to 50 people.

The building also houses multiple health department functions. It is located at 9150 Franklin Square Dr. in eastern Baltimore County.

Boston VA patient infected

In the latest Legionnaires’ case to hit New England, a patient treated at three different Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in the Boston area was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, according to health officials in the VA Boston Healthcare System. The patient was treated at facilities in Jamaica Plain, Brockton, and West Roxbury.

“VA Boston has diagnosed one of its inpatients with LD and is following strict protocols to learn whether this patient contracted LD while in the hospital,” the VA Boston HealthCare System wrote in a statement.

Officials are tracing the patient’s movements and testing the water for Legionella at all three hospitals to determine if one of the hospitals is the source of the patient’s infection. The VA did not release information about the patient’s condition.

“We working to test any potential water source in the patient’s path along our VA system to see if there’s a presence of Legionella within that source,” Dr. Katherine Linsenmeyer, VA Boston Healthcare System associate chief epidemiologist, told NECN 10 News.

Hot spot for Legionnaires
Over the last two months, Legionnaires’ disease has made headlines across New England:

  • New Hampshire: Eighteen individuals were infected with Legionnaires, including one fatality, in Hampton between June 14 and August 24. The state typically sees an average of 30 cases per year.
  • Rhode Island: In August, two residents at Saint Elizabeth Manor, a skilled nursing and rehab center in Bristol, were infected in August. Three cases were diagnosed between mid-August and early September at Summit Commons Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Providence.
  • Maine: In late August, the Maine Center for Disease Control issued an alert to the public, declaring that the state had recorded sixteen cases in 2018, including nine since the start of August.
  • Massachusetts: In early September, the Lowell Department of Public Health announced that four cases of Legionnaires had been confirmed across the city in July and August. Health officials are investigating to see if the cases are connected.

Disneyland fined in wake of 2017 outbreak

Disneyland was cited and fined by OSHA for improperly cleaning cooling towers linked to a 2017 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) fined Disneyland, saying the theme park failed to properly maintain cooling equipment, leading three employees to acquire Legionnaires’ disease, according to a citation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

In all, 22 people were sickened last fall in Orange County, including 19 people who had visited the park. Two of the three employees were hospitalized, and two victims – neither of whom visited the park – passed away.

Cal/OSHA fined Disney $33,000 for the alleged violations, saying:

  • The park did not take adequate steps to clean and maintain the cooling towers.
  • It failed to implement procedures to correct workplace hazards.
  • It did not report two worker illnesses promptly.

OSHA investigates workplace fatalities and catastrophes resulting in the hospitalization of three or more workers. Its findings address only how the three employees were infected, and not how the other 19 people were sickened.

“The employer did not follow the manufacturer’s cooling tower start-up maintenance and water-treatment procedure to control outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease,” Cal-OSHA wrote in the citation. “As a result, two employees suffered serious illness, requiring hospitalization of more than 24 hours.”

Disneyland has appealed the fine, saying the source of the outbreak could have been elsewhere in the Anaheim area. Park officials said they will present their case Oct. 4 before a three-member appeals panel in West Covina, unless they settle with Cal/OSHA before that time.