Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease in West Virginia, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Legionnaires’ disease is on the rise in West Virginia.

Just months after an outbreak in Hancock County, Brooke County has experienced a cluster of six cases of Legionnaires’ disease – a serious, pneumonia-like illness – in the past two months.

“It’s certainly something that sent up a red flag because typically we don’t have many cases,” said Mike Bolen, Brooke County Health Department administrator. “At this time, there appears to be no related link to the cases.”

In October, six cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported to the Hancock County Health Department, including an outbreak that infected four employees at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort. There have been “no new cases in Hancock County” since that time, according to Hancock County administrator Jackie Huff.

The western borders of the two neighboring counties are on the Ohio River, and their eastern borders are on the Pennsylvania state border.

There are approximately 20 to 30 annual cases of Legionnaires’ disease in West Virginia.

Outbreak? Cluster? Community-acquired?
The terms “cluster” and “outbreak” are used when multiple cases are reported in or around the same proximity and within a designated period. The term “community-acquired” is used when there are no commonalities; these kinds of cases are the most common.

If two or more illnesses occurred in the same general vicinity within a period of three to 12 months, the term “cluster” would be used, such as the occurrence of six cases in Hancock and Brooke counties in such a short period of time.

If two or more cases are reported within days or weeks, rather than months, and occurred in a more limited geographic area – meaning officials can pinpoint a specific area within a city where illnesses occurred, such as at Mountaineer – then the term “outbreak” would be used.

Legionnaires primer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 25,000 annual cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila). Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Legionnaires’ disease – which is also known as legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early. If that does not occur, however, severe complications can develop, and the disease can become deadly.

Disease symptoms
Legionnaires’ disease is similar to other types of pneumonia, and symptoms can even resemble those of influenza (flu), which is why it often goes under-reported. Early symptoms generally include:

  • severe headaches
  • muscle aches
  • suppressed appetite
  • fever (104 degrees or higher) and chills.

Symptoms can then worsen to include:

  • pleuritic chest pain (pain caused by inflamed lungs)
  • dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
  • cough, which can produce blood and mucus
  • gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (about one-third of Legionnaires cases produce these symptoms)
  • mental agitation and confusion.

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

High-risk categories
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).

Legionella sources
Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and clusters have been linked to a number of sources, including:

  • water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • showers and faucets
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • decorative fountains.

Pontiac fever
A milder type of Legionella illness is Pontiac fever, which produces symptoms – including fever, chills, headaches and muscle pains – that are similar to Legionnaires’ disease. Pontiac fever, however, does not infect the lungs, and symptoms usually clear within two to five days.

Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease in Arnold, Missouri, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


For the second time this month, city officials in Arnold, Missouri, shut down the City of Arnold Recreation Center indoor pool – this time indefinitely – after learning of a second case of Legionnaires’ disease possibly tied to the facility. The pool was closed on Jan. 17, but the rest of the facility remains open.

The rec center was contacted last week by a Jefferson County parent who said their child had contracted the sometimes-deadly respiratory illness, prompting the latest closure.

“The parent who called said the child had been at the pool recently,” Arnold City administrator Bryan Richison told myleaderpaper.com. “We immediately notified the (Jefferson County Health Department) and (Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services); (they are) doing what they can to track it down and confirm what the person is telling us.”

Earlier this month, a St. Louis County resident was confirmed with Legionella pneumonia and, after investigating, health officials said they believed the illness was linked to the center’s indoor pool, which the patient had visited.

“The city of Arnold is initiating precautionary measures after receiving notification a second person indicated the individual had been at the Arnold Recreation Center within the last few weeks,” according to signage posted at the rec center. “Pursuant to protocols, the Jefferson County Public Health Department (JCHD) is attempting to verify the report.”

The pool was closed voluntarily on Jan. 11 and re-opened Jan. 14 after performing a “chlorine shock,” which involved pouring a large amount of chlorine into the pool to sterilize the water. Water samples were not collected at that time since only one case had been reported.

“The initial investigation that was completed did not find any conditions favorable to the growth of Legionella,” JCHD director Kelley Vollmar said. “But things are always evolving. We will continue to work with the partners to ensure the health and safety of our residents.”

It was not announced whether water testing would be performed after the notification of the second case. Information on the condition of the two people sickened was not released.

The city of Arnold is approximately 18 miles south of St. Louis, along the Illinois border.

According to health officials, there are approximately 150 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Missouri and 300 in Illinois each year.  Last October, two guests of the Marriott St. Louis West hotel were diagnosed with Legionnaires. Results of testing of the hotel’s cooling tank, which is used for the hotel’s showers and drinking water, came back positive for Legionella.

Center visitors should beware

If you are a resident, visitor or employee of the Arnold Recreation Center, located at 1695 Missouri State Road, and you swam in the pool or traveled through the pool area and are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should seek care from 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 the flu:

More on Legionnaires

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 25,000 annual cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila). Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

About 10 percent of people infected with Legionella bacteria will die from the infection.

(Note: Legionnaires’ disease is also known as legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia. The scientific term for Legionella bacteria is Legionella pneumophila.)

Legionella sources

Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and clusters have been linked to a number of sources, including:

  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • showers and faucets
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • large plumbing systems
  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • decorative fountains.
High-risk categories

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).

Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital officials said they have implemented water restrictions after two cases of Legionnaires’ disease from November and December were potentially linked to the Park Slope hospital.

Water testing at the hospital in December returned positive results for Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, spurring an investigation by the New York State Department of Health.

“It is common to find a small amount of Legionella in the water of many large buildings and hospitals,” according to a statement released by hospital officials. “Most people who were exposed to the bacteria would not become ill.”

Officials for the state health department said they are working with the hospital to prevent additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease.

“The health and safety of our patients and staff is always our primary concern,” a hospital official said. “Out of an abundance of caution and consistent with our safety protocol, we have implemented water restrictions. We work with the state and city departments of health to maintain a clean water supply and have already taken steps to disinfect our water sources.”

Additional information was not released on the patients who contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

Elsewhere in the U.S.:

MISSOURI POOL DISINFECTED AFTER ILLNESS
The indoor pool at a Missouri recreation center has reopened after it was temporarily closed due to fears of Legionella contamination.

The City of Arnold Recreation Center in Jefferson County shuttered the pool Jan. 10 to disinfect it after the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) confirmed a St. Louis County man who had visited the pool multiple times was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The pool reopened Jan. 14.

“At this point, they (health officials) are not sure where the case of Legionnaires was contracted,” Arnold city administrator Bryan Richison said. “We are one of several places they are inspecting.”

The city-run rec center, located at 1695 Missouri State Road, was not required to close or disinfect the pool under Missouri health codes but elected to do so out of an abundance of caution. Officials performed a “chlorine shock,” which consists of pouring a large amount of chlorine into the pool to sterilize the water.

Richison said the DHSS alerted the Jefferson County Health Department about the pool’s possible tie to the individual’s illness.

Water testing was not required because only one case was reported. However, if a second person connected to the pool is diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, testing would be required, Richison said.

ANOTHER ILLINOIS VETERANS HOME HIT
A resident of the Manteno Veterans Home in Manteno, Illinois, who was being treated at a hospital tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA).

Officials at the IDVA indicate a rapid response was put into place once they were informed of the positive test. IDVA director Stephen Curda directed staff to notify residents, relatives and employees of the illness. “We are taking every precaution necessary to protect our residents, staff, and visitors at our Manteno Home,” Curda was quoted in a statement.

Water remediation began immediately, according to the IDVA, a process that included flushing and heat-treating the home’s potable water systems. The vital signs of patients are being checked every four hours by medical staff, according to ABC-7.

The Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy suffered Legionnaires’ outbreaks for four consecutive years (2015-18). Fourteen people died, and dozens more were sickened.

Legionnaires’ info

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.”

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.

Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease at Phoebe Richland Health Care Center in Richlandtown, Pennsylvania, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The year’s first Legionnaires’ disease outbreak has claimed a life after two patients at a Richlandtown, Pennsylvania, care center were confirmed with the deadly respiratory illness, according to WFMZ-TV.

The two individuals, who came to Phoebe Richland Health Care Center from two area hospitals, were diagnosed on Jan. 2 and Jan. 5. The patient who passed away died due to multiple contributing health factors, according to a statement released by Phoebe Richland officials. The other resident is in stable condition and undergoing treatment.

No information was provided on either patient.

“The health and well-being of our residents and staff are Phoebe’s top priorities,” the Phoebe Richland statement read. “In the last few days, two residents who were recently admitted to Phoebe Richland Health Care Center were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia — that is, lung inflammation usually caused by infection – according to the Mayo Clinic. The disease is caused by Legionella bacteria, and most people are infected by inhaling the bacteria in the form of microscopic water droplets, usually in the form of mist or vapor.

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.

Phoebe Richland is working with the Bucks County Health Department to identify whether the facility is the possible source of the Legionella that infected the residents.

“We have engaged an outside vendor to conduct specialized water testing beyond our annual testing, which is performed in accordance to our water-management policies,” the statement read. “In the event that our campus is determined to be the source of the Legionella bacteria, we are taking measures to locate and eliminate any potential source of Legionella.”

Phoebe Richland is located at 108 S. Main Street in Richlandtown, about 50 miles north of Philadelphia. The facility offers long-term care, short-term rehab, memory support services, and respite care.

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).

Legionnaires’ info

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 25,000 annual cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila). Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

About 10 percent of people infected with Legionella bacteria will die from the infection.

Note: Legionnaires’ disease is also known as legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia.

Legionella sources
Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and clusters have been linked to a number of sources, including:

  • water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • showers and faucets
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • decorative fountains.

Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease at Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings, Michigan, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


One of two patients has died after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at a Michigan hospital that tested positive for Legionella bacteria.

Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings tested several locations around the hospital on Dec. 18 after two patients were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and test results returned this week were positive for Legionella bacteria, which causes the disease.

The man who passed away was 92 years old; he was diagnosed with Legionnaires in November, treated for the disease, and then discharged to a rehab center, where he died from “chronic aspiration pneumonia.” Dr. J. Daniel Woodall, medical director of Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD), said it’s “not possible to determine if (the patient’s death) was linked to Legionnaires’ disease.”

Hospital officials said they’re unsure if he caught the disease from the hospital’s water supply and whether the disease is what killed him because his case was “very complex,” and he had other health issues.

The other patient sickened by Legionnaires’ disease was discharged from the hospital and has since recovered. They were treated for Legionnaires in September, but it’s also unknown whether their illness was hospital-acquired. Their age and gender were not released.

“We cannot correlate the two cases of Legionnaires’ disease and the bacteria in the water,” Woodall said.

The hospital is implementing several safety precautions, including providing alternative water sources, installing a new water filtration system, and testing additional patients for the disease.

“Patient safety, the safety of our visitors, and the safety of our staff is absolutely the most important thing to us at Spectrum Health,” said Leslie Jurecko, the vice president of quality, safety and experience at Spectrum Health System.

Spectrum Health is working collaboratively with local and state health departments and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for legionellosis risk management.

More disease info

Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. If it is not diagnosed early, it can lead to severe complications and even become deadly.

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 bacteria 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, such as:

  • water systems, such as those in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • 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.

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 UW Health’s University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The University Hospital Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Madison, Wisconsin, has been making headlines since late November, but the UW Health hospital is not the only one in the news.

Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings, Michigan, tested several locations around the hospital after two patients were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and test results were positive for Legionella. One patient died.

In addition, an inspection of the water system at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) uncovered Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease.

A spokesperson for New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital said, “The water supply of many large buildings and hospitals often contains small amounts of Legionella bacteria, and most people who are exposed to Legionella will not become ill. If Legionella does cause an infection, it is treatable with antibiotics and does not generally pose a threat to the public.”

As a safety measure, hospital officials said they have put in water restrictions and taken steps to disinfect the water sources. The NYSDOH is investigating with the aid of hospital officials.

Murky situation in Michigan
The patient who died in Michigan was a 92-year-old man diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in November. He was treated for the disease and discharged to a rehab center, where he died from “chronic aspiration pneumonia,” according to Dr. J. Daniel Woodall, Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) medical director. Woodall said it’s “not possible to determine if (his death) was linked to Legionnaires’ disease.”

Spectrum Health Pennick officials said they’re unsure if the patient caught the disease from the hospital’s water supply and whether the disease is what killed him because his case was “very complex,” and he had other health issues.

The other patient was discharged from the hospital and has since recovered. They were treated for Legionnaires’ disease in September, but it’s also unknown whether their illness was hospital-acquired. Their age and gender were not released.

UW Health outbreak timeline
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) was alerted Nov. 28 by UW Health of confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease among patients admitted to University Hospital since Oct. 31. At that time, UW Health officials attributed the infections to a change in the hospital’s hot-water system. “The flow was altered in the system,” said Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control for UW Health. “So, instead of being at a consistent high flow, it was altered to be more flexible to be on demand.”

On Nov. 29, UW Health officials announced a fifth case as well as the first fatality. The case count was increased to 11 in early December, and it rose to 14 on Dec. 18, with two more deaths reported. A UW Health statement said the patients who died all had “serious, life-limiting health conditions.”

Additionally, test results confirmed that the Legionella strain in three patients was identical to the strain found in University Hospital’s water system. The other 11 patients did not provide samples for testing.

Legionnaires’ info

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 25,000 annual cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila). Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Legionnaires’ disease – which is also known as legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early. If that does not occur, however, severe complications can develop, and the disease can become deadly, as evidenced by the UW Health outbreak.

Disease symptoms
Legionnaires’ disease is similar to other types of pneumonia, and symptoms can even resemble those of influenza (flu), which is why it often goes under-reported. Early symptoms generally include:

  • severe headaches
  • muscle aches
  • suppressed appetite
  • fever (104 degrees or higher) and chills.

Symptoms can then worsen to include:

  • pleuritic chest pain (pain caused by inflamed lungs)
  • dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
  • cough, which can produce blood and mucus
  • gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (about one-third of Legionnaires cases produce these symptoms)
  • mental agitation and confusion.

A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease — known as Pontiac fever — may produce signs and symptoms including a fever, chills, headaches and muscle pains. Pontiac fever, however, doesn’t infect the lungs, and symptoms usually clear within two to five days.

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

High-risk categories
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).

Legionnaires’ disease is also known as legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia. It is treatable with antibiotics, although if it is not diagnosed early, it can lead to severe complications and even can become deadly.

Legionella sources
Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and clusters have been linked to a number of sources, including:

  • water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • showers and faucets
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • decorative fountains.

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.


A 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Legionnaires’ disease is widespread in long-term care facilities – and 75 percent of cases could be prevented with better water management.

The most recent example of this is happening currently at University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, where an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has resulted in 14 patients being sickened – and three of them dying. The primary suspect in the outbreak: a change in the hospital’s hot-water system, which was adjusted to save water.

“The flow was altered in the system,” Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control for UW Health, said on Nov. 28, when the outbreak was first reported. “So, instead of being at a consistent high flow, it was altered to be more flexible to be on demand.”

Data from 2015 cases
The 2017 CDC report, using data from 2015, showed that Legionnaires’ disease kills 10 percent of those who are diagnosed from the general population. In a long-term care facility, such as University Hospital, that rate increases to 25 percent.

There were 2,809 cases of Legionnaires’ disease confirmed in the U.S. in 2015, including 85 (3 percent) considered “definite” and 468 (17 percent) considered “possible” health-care-associated cases. The study used information only from long-term-care patients, or anyone who had been in a health-care facility for 10 days or longer.

“In health-care facilities, people are more vulnerable and more likely to get sick if they are exposed to the pathogen,” Anne Schuchat, then-acting director of the CDC, said during a 2017 media telebriefing on the report. “Everything from shower heads, to decorative fountains, to respiratory equipment, could house Legionella.”

Patients vulnerable
The three patients who died at University Hospital all had “serious, life-limiting health conditions,” UW Health officials said, underscoring the vulnerability of bed-ridden hospital patients.

UW Health officials reported that test results from three patients showed the strain of Legionella was identical to that found in University Hospital’s water system. Samples were not taken from the other 11 patients.

Chlorine successful
University Hospital officials said the water system had been flushed with high levels of chlorine to eliminate Legionella, and the procedure has worked. “Testing completed so far continues to show the expected reduction in the bacteria,” officials said in a statement. “UW Health will continue intensive monitoring of its water system to ensure patient safety.”

University Hospital officials also said they have been working with the CDC, and a review and analysis from the federal organization are expected in about three months.

A disease on the rise
Legionnaires’ disease is “an emerging disease in the sense that the number of recorded cases of Legionnaires in the United States continues to increase,” according to Laura Cooley from the Respiratory Diseases Branch of the CDC.

Cooley said she believes that increase is due to the susceptibility of the general population, as well as the likelihood that there is more Legionella in the environment since warmer temperatures are creating the optimal conditions for bacterial growth.

Seventeen of the 18 warmest years since modern record-keeping began have happened since 2001, according to both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The four warmest years all have occurred since 2014, with 2017 being the warmest non-El Niño year ever.

This year is shaping up to be the fourth-hottest year on record. The only years hotter were 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Legionnaires information

The CDC estimates that there are about 25,000 yearly cases in the United States, although only 5,000 are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms.

Those symptoms, which develop from two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, usually start with:

  • fever, which can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • severe headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen and include:

  • dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • pleuritic chest pain (pleurisy), which occurs when the lining of the lungs is inflamed
  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • mental agitation.

Legionella sources
Legionella bacteria, which cause Legionnaires’ disease, are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (vapor or mist). The bacteria grow best in warm water, and they are found most commonly in human-made environments.

In addition to large water systems like those in health-care facilities, Legionella can be found in:

  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • decorative fountains
  • swimming pools, whirlpools, and hot tubs
  • mist machines, like those in the produce sections of grocery stores
  • hand-held sprayers
  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems.

High-risk groups
In addition to hospital patients with compromised immune systems, people most susceptible to infection include:

  • anyone over the age of 50 years old
  • recipients of organ transplants
  • those on a specific drug protocol (corticosteroids, for example)
  • anyone with a chronic lung disease or COPD (most commonly, bronchitis or emphysema)
  • smokers, current or former
  • alcoholics.

(Note: Legionnaires’ disease is also known as legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia. The scientific term for Legionella bacteria is Legionella pneumophila.)

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 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at University Hospital on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison continues to worsen as UW Health officials announced that three patients have died. In addition, the case count has increased to 14.

The three patients who died all had “serious, life-limiting health conditions,” according to UW Health’s release. One patient remains hospitalized with serious health conditions, and 10 patients have been discharged and are recovering.

Lab testing of three of the patients confirmed that the strain of Legionella – the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease – was the same strain found in the hospital’s water system. Other patients were unable to provide samples for testing.

Chlorine introduced
The water system has been flushed with high levels of chlorine to eliminate the bacteria, and hospital officials said that procedure has been effective. “Testing completed so far continues to show the expected reduction in the bacteria,” the hospital’s release stated. “UW Health will continue intensive monitoring of its water system to ensure patient safety.”

UW Health announced Nov. 28 that there were four cases of the serious respiratory illness and attributed the outbreak to a change in its hot-water system, which was adjusted in an attempt to save water. “The flow was altered in the system,” said Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Hospital and Clinics. “So, instead of being at a consistent high flow, it was altered to be more flexible to be on demand.”

A fifth case and a fatality were announced Nov. 29, and the case count was raised to 11 in early December.

The hospital has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its response to the outbreak, and a review and analysis from the CDC is expected in about three months.

Legionnaires FAQs

What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of lung infection. According to the 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.

Legionnaires’ disease is treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early enough. If that does not occur, however, it can lead to severe complications and even can become deadly.

How is Legionella contracted?
Legionella bacteria 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.

Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and clusters have been linked to a number of sources, including:

  • the cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • water systems, such as those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • showers and faucets
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • decorative fountains.

What are the symptoms?
Legionnaires’ disease develops anywhere from two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella. Symptoms frequently begin with the following:

  • severe headache
  • muscle aches and pains
  • chills
  • high fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By day two or three, other symptoms develop, including:

  • coughing, which often brings up mucus and sometimes blood
  • difficulty breathing, also known as dyspnea
  • chest pains
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

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

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.

Patients at higher risk
Anyone can become ill from Legionella, but those most susceptible to infection include:

  • people with compromised immune systems
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • people 50 years of age or older
  • smokers, both current and former
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

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 the Marriott St. Louis West, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Two people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Marriott St. Louis West, and health officials have launched an investigation, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). The Marriott St. Louis West is located at 660 Maryville Centre Drive.

The two people – who are not associated with one another – were diagnosed in October and November after staying at the hotel during the same period. No information was released on their conditions.

The DHSS warns that individuals who lodged or visited the hotel after Oct. 1 could be at risk for contracting Legionnaires’ disease, a serious form of pneumonia that is contracted by breathing in Legionella bacteria.

Officials believe a water source at the hotel is to blame. Testing, however, has yet to uncover any water samples showing the presence of Legionella. Additional test results are pending.

“We do not know whether the hotel was the source of the germs that caused the two people to become sick,” the DHSS wrote in a news release. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Advice for hotel visitors
The risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease is low, but officials advise anyone who developed flu-like symptoms or respiratory distress within two weeks of staying at or visiting the hotel to seek medical attention right away.

Legionnaires’ disease is similar to other types of pneumonia. Symptoms can even resemble those of flu, which is why Legionnaires’ disease often goes under-reported. Those symptoms include:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fever
  • muscle aches
  • headaches
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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

A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease — known as Pontiac fever — can produce signs and symptoms that include a fever, chills, headaches and muscle pains. Pontiac fever, however, doesn’t infect the lungs, and symptoms usually clear within two to five days.

“Ask your doctor to test you with both a urine test and a respiratory culture,” the DHSS advised in its release. “If you test positive, ask your doctor to report your illness to your local or state health department as soon as possible after your diagnosis.”

Hotel officials react
Marriott St. Louis West officials are taking “proactive measures” to ensure the safety of their guests and employees. Lodging Hospitality Management issued the following statement:

“The health and well-being of our guests and team members is our top priority. As soon as we were made aware of the situation, we fully cooperated with the Missouri health department, allowing them to test and evaluate all of the areas of the hotel. We are being abundantly cautious and have taken measures to follow health department recommendations to maintain a safe environment for everyone.”

More on Legionnaires’ disease

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.

Legionella hosts
Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks have been linked to a number of sources:

  • the cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • showers and faucets
  • swimming pools
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • decorative fountains
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • water systems, such as those used in hotels, hospitals, and nursing homes.

People at increased 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).

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.


Six new illnesses have been identified in the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at University Hospital in Madison, raising the case count to 11, according to UW Health officials.

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.