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’ disease in Pinellas County, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
Per a Florida statute, the department does not disclose locations of active investigations. Also, no information was provided on the genders, ages or current health conditions of the two people sickened.
Pinellas County is part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area. Visit www.PinellasHealth.com or call 727-824-6900 for information about DOH-Pinellas.
Do you have these symptoms?
Since the exact area of the outbreak is unknown, if you live or work in, or travel through, Pinellas County and are feeling flu-like symptoms, you should see your health-care provider out of an abundance of caution.
Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are similar to those of other types of pneumonia, and they can even resemble those of influenza (flu). Those symptoms include:
- fever (potentially 104 degrees or higher)
- loss of appetite
- muscle aches.
After the first few days of the disease presenting, symptoms can worsen to include:
- chest pain when breathing (called 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.
Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of lung infection and treatable with antibiotics. If not diagnosed early, however, the condition can lead to severe complications and even become deadly. It is not contagious; that is, it cannot be passed from person to person.
Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart. It can also lead to a number of life-threatening complications, including respiratory failure, septic shock, and acute kidney failure.
A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease — known as Pontiac fever — may produce signs and symptoms including a fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn’t infect your lungs, and symptoms usually manifest within two to five days.
More 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.
Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets, usually in the form of mist or vapor.
About one in 10 people who gets sick from Legionnaires will die
The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments. Outbreaks have been linked to numerous sources, such as:
- water systems, such as those used in apartment complexes, hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
- the cooling towers of air conditioning systems
- large plumbing systems
- 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 easily.
Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick. However, anyone can become ill from the bacteria, and those most susceptible to infection include:
- people 50 years of age or older
- smokers, both current and former
- heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
- people with chronic lung disease
- people with compromised immune systems
- recipients of organ transplants
- individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one).
Warmer weather to blame?
Legionnaires’ disease is “an emerging disease in the sense that the number of recorded cases of Legionnaires in the United States continues to increase,” said Laura Cooley of the CDC’s Respiratory Diseases Branch.
In a 2017 interview, Cooley said the increase is due to a rise in the susceptibility of the population, with more and more people on immunosuppressive medications. There also could be more Legionella in the environment, with warmer temperatures creating the right conditions for bacterial growth.
Seventeen of the 18 warmest years since modern record-keeping began have occurred since 2001, according to analyses by both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The four warmest years on record have occurred since 2014, with 2017 being the warmest non-El Niño year recorded.
This year is shaping up to be the fourth-hottest year on record. The only years hotter were the three previous ones.