Sick with Legionnaires?
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Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease at Legacy House, you might have cause to file a Legionnaires lawsuit. Please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease and the discovery of Legionella bacteria in the water system have prompted an assisted living facility in Taylorsville, Utah, to implement water restrictions.
One of the 80 residents at Legacy House of Taylorsville took ill with the bacterial illness in early April. Last week, the Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) confirmed the disease in a second resident, and health officials advised the facility to stop all tap water use.
The SLCoHD said it had previously collected water samples that tested positive for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Another round of tests were performed Friday, and those results are expected next week.
Seven other residents were tested for Legionnaires’ disease, but their results were negative.
“We want to make sure that all of our residents are safe,” said Nathan Cluff, Legacy House’s executive director.
Signage in rooms, bathrooms, and above drinking fountains warned residents not to use the water, and staff has been supplying bottled water for drinking, washing, and bathing.
“Out of an abundance of precaution, we’re going to implement these water restrictions just to make sure we keep people safe until the problem’s been remediated,” Cluff said.
The SLCoHD sent a letter to residents informing them to take the following precautions until “water maintenance activities” are completed:
- Drink only bottled water.
- Do not shower; take sponge baths only.
- It is OK to wash dishes with tap water, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating a mist.
Legionella Specialties, a water management company in Murray, Utah, has been hired by Legacy House to eradicate Legionella, which are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor.
“We’re looking for spots where the water would be turned into aerosol, like a showerhead, a fountain, a hot tub,” Steve Madsen, owner of Legionella Specialties, told KSL-TV. “It can even be a drinking fountain or a sink in a room.”
Legionella bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:
- water systems of large buildings (nursing homes, hospitals, hotels, etc.)
- bathroom showers and faucets
- physical therapy equipment
- whirlpools and hot tubs
- swimming pools
- mist machines and hand-held sprayers
- decorative fountains
- air-conditioning system cooling towers
- large plumbing systems
- hot-water heaters and tanks.
Warm, stagnant water provides the right conditions for growth, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The organism can multiply at temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and temps of 90 degrees to 105 degrees are optimal for that to occur.
Because Legionella thrives in warm water instead of hot, the bacteria often are found in places like assisted-living facilities, where the water temperature is controlled to prevent burns, according to Nathan Rupp, SLCoHD communications coordinator.
The remediation efforts have advanced enough for the facility to set up “designated shower rooms” which have filters installed to eliminate Legionella.
“We have residents showering again today safely, and we’ll be calling in some extra staff to help us catch up on our shower schedule,” Cluff said.
There were 17 reports of Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – recorded in Salt Lake County in 2018. The county experiences about 25 incident reports of the disease each year.
The SLCoHD is advising that if you are a resident, visitor or employee of the Legacy House, located at 6302 South Gold Medal Drive, and you have been in the facility in April and are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider.
Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are similar to those of other types of pneumonia, and they even can resemble those of flu:
- smokers, both current and former
- 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)
- heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.