Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
The outbreak was first reported on Nov. 28 when four cases of the deadly respiratory illness were confirmed. A fifth case and a fatality were announced the next day.
The new illnesses were not unexpected as officials expected the count to grow, due to the exposure window to Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Symptoms can present up to 14 days after exposure, and other patients could present symptoms up until Dec. 12, according to a hospital press release.
Four of the patients remain hospitalized, while six have been discharged or treated as outpatients. Their conditions are considered stable, and an antibiotic treatment protocol is working as expected.
One patient, who had been hospitalized with multiple, serious health problems, died last week. At the time of that pronouncement, Lisa Brunette, UW Health direction of media relations, said the “death was not unexpected.”
Hyperchlorination of the hospital’s hot water system has been successful in the reducing the bacteria, but monitoring at multiple sites within University Hospital is ongoing.
“We are confident the hyperchlorination worked as expected,” said John Marx, UW Health senior infection control practice specialist. “An aggressive program of monitoring and screening is in place to ensure the system is functioning as designed. Our commitment to the safety of our patients is unwavering.”
UW Health is working with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (DPH) on mitigation and testing efforts and have extended an invitation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asking them to act as an additional expert resource.
A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease — known as Pontiac fever — can produce signs and symptoms including a fever, chills, headaches and muscle pains. Pontiac fever, however, doesn’t infect the lungs, and symptoms usually manifest within two to five days.
Seniors at high risk
Anyone can become ill from Legionella, but 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).
More disease info
Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. The bacterial infection is treatable with antibiotics, although if it is not diagnosed early, it can lead to severe complications and even become deadly. It is not contagious; that is, it cannot be passed from person to person.
According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States on a yearly basis. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.
Ten percent of people who become infected with Legionnaires will die from the infection.
Legionella, which is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires, are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets, usually in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments.
Where do Legionella live?
Outbreaks have been linked to a number of sources:
- water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
- large plumbing systems
- the cooling towers of air conditioning systems.
- hot-water tanks and heaters
- equipment used in physical therapy
- showers and faucets
- hot tubs and whirlpools
- swimming pools
- mist machines and hand-held sprayers
- decorative fountains.