Sick with Legionnaires?
Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this Rocky Hill nursing facility outbreak, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Two residents at the Apple Rehab Rocky Hill nursing facility in Connecticut were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease, and one of them died from their disease, health officials confirmed.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) released a statement that it, along with Apple Rehab Rocky Hill, are “continuing a joint investigation to identify the environmental source of Legionella bacteria to protect patients, staff, and visitors.”

According to the statement, “DPH was notified on July 17, 2019, of a resident of the facility with Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella bacteria were also found in water samples tested by the facility.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory infection caused by inhaling microscopic water droplets (mist or vapor) containing Legionella.

No other information was released on the two victims. Patients, staff, and visitors have been notified of the finding of Legionella in the water system.

“We have one definitive case of Legionnaires’ disease and have notified our residents and families,” Apple Rehab officials confirmed in a statement. “We are proactively monitoring patients with new symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough for at least three months.”

Apple Rehab has 24 nursing homes in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Rocky Hill is a city of about 20,000 11 miles south of Hartford; the Rocky Hill nursing facility is located at 45 Elm Street.

Rocky Hill nursing facility: remediation begun

A 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”

That being said, remediation efforts have begun at the Rocky Hill nursing facility. The water system is undergoing chlorine treatment, and additional environmental testing is expected as the DPH monitors Apple Rehab’s water quality and preventative measures.

Rocky Hill nursing facility: residents susceptible

Most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years old and older – especially those who smoke or have chronic lung conditions – are at a higher risk.

Other people more susceptible to infection include:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

This list also includes anyone with an immune system weakened by:

  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections
  • organ inflammation and infection
  • blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia
  • digestive problems, such as cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea, and nausea
  • delayed growth and development.

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Rocky Hill nursing facility: growing problem

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection and 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.

Cooley said she believes the increase is due to an increase 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 all occurred since 2014, with 2017 being the warmest non-El Niño year ever.

2018 was the fourth hottest year on record. The only years hotter were the three previous ones.

DPH began routine legionellosis surveillance in 1997 (Legionnaires’ disease is also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia). Since then, annually reported cases have ranged from 15 to a record high of 201 last year.

Rocky Hill nursing facility: disease symptoms

According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States every year. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms.

The disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, and it frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills and fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, other symptoms develop, including:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pains (pleurisy)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it also can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.