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 Upper Manhattan, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Prominent Manhattan attorney Scott Harford, working in conjunction with Elliot Olsen, will conduct a Legionnaires community meeting Tuesday to inform Upper Manhattan residents of their legal rights in regards to this year’s two Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. The meeting will be 5 to 8 p.m. in the conference room of the Edge Hotel, 514 West 168th Street, between Amsterdam and Audubon).

To recap: Almost 60 residents of Upper Manhattan have been sickened by Legionnaires’ disease in the past six months – and two of them are dead because of it. The source of the outbreaks was a contaminated cooling tower at Harlem’s Sugar Hill Project, 898 St. Nicholas Avenue (St. Nicholas and 155th).

Harford will provide community members the opportunity to gather information about the potentially deadly lung infection as he helps them better understand the legal ramifications of their situation. To assist, he will be accompanied by a Dominican Spanish speaker.

Upper Manhattan outbreaks: 59 ill, 2 dead

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) released its final update on the second Legionnaires outbreak about three weeks ago, announcing that 32 people were sickened, and one victim had died.

In the first outbreak, which occurred over the summer, 27 people became ill, and one died. In that outbreak, 25 of the 27 sickened required hospitalization.

Upper Manhattan outbreaks: stay aware

Despite the DOHMH statement that the outbreak had concluded, residents, people who work in the area, and anyone traveling through Upper Manhattan should remain alert. Someone who is infected might not show symptoms immediately because of the disease’s long incubation period, which can be up to two weeks.

Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person. If it is caught early enough, it can be treated with antibiotics.

Anyone with flu-like symptoms – difficulty breathing, cough, fever – should see their doctor out of an abundance of caution.

Upper Manhattan outbreaks: hard to diagnose

Because symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to symptoms of pneumonia (lung infection) or influenza (flu), many cases go unreported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled statistics that show that only about 5,000 of the estimated 25,000 annual cases in the U.S. are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Approximately 10 percent of people infected with Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) will die from the infection.

Upper Manhattan outbreaks: symptoms

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease generally begin with:

  • severe headaches
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees or higher
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • suppressed appetite.

After a few days, however, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • chest pain, or pleuritic chest pain, which is pain caused by inflamed lungs
  • difficulty breathing, or dyspnea
  • coughing, which can bring up blood or mucus
  • gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc.
  • mental agitation and confusion.

Upper Manhattan outbreaks: high risk

Anyone can breathe in Legionella bacteria, but those most susceptible to becoming ill include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers, both current and former
  • people with a chronic lung disease, or COPD (most commonly, emphysema or bronchitis)
  • people with a suppressed immune system
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • organ-transplant recipients
  • people on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, for instance).

Upper Manhattan outbreaks: vapor, mist

Legionnaires’ disease – also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (mist or vapor). Legionella bacteria grow best in warm water, and they are found primarily in human-made environments, including:

  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems, as is the case with these outbreaks
  • water systems, like those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • showers and faucets
  • mist machines, like those used in the produce sections of grocery stores
  • hand-held sprayers
  • swimming pools, whirlpools, hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • decorative fountains.