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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients who have been harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member got sick in a Harlem Legionnaires outbreak, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The health department is evaluating the water system at a NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartment complex in Harlem after two residents were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease in the past year.

Residents of the Drew Hamilton Houses — located on Frederick Douglass Boulevard — received letters in the mail that two of the complex’s buildings are being evaluated for Legionella bacteria, according to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Drew Hamilton Houses is a 734-unit affordable housing community.

The DOHMH’s public notification protocol for Legionnaires’ disease requires health officials to inform tenants when there are two or more cases reported at a single building in a 12-month period.

Harlem Legionnaires: Water system suspected

Last year, two outbreaks in Upper Manhattan killed two and infected 59, and the cooling tower at Harlem’s Sugar Hill Project was the source for both outbreaks. Drew Hamilton Houses does not have a cooling tower, which is why the water system is the leading suspect.

Legionella are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • large plumbing systems
  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • swimming pools
  • whirlpools and hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.
Harlem Legionnaires: Precautions advised

The department is evaluating Drew Hamilton Houses’ water system and will test it for Legionella. Tenants still can use and drink the water, but residents are reminded that even fast-running water in someone’s sink – warm or cool – can create vapor that can be inhaled, so practice these precautions:

  • Don’t shower – instead, take a bath, filling the tub slowly, and minimizing your time in the bathroom while the water is running.
  • Wash dishes but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating a mist.
  • Drink cold water from the tap and start with cold water when heating water for coffee, tea, or cooking.
  • Wash your hands.
  • You do not need to wear a mask.
Harlem Legionnaires: high-risk groups

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
  • people with suppressed immune systems

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

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

Elsewhere in NYC

Water restrictions extended for The Brielle at Seaview: Residents at The Brielle at Seaview in Staten Island were told to continue to follow DOHMH water restrictions after the facility’s water supply tested positive for Legionella.

“Until we receive the results from the August 1 testing, the DOH has decided to maintain their recommendation for water restriction,” a letter to residents read.

One unoccupied room out of 26 test sites at the non-profit, assisted-living facility, collected on July 1, came back positive for the bacteria. Legionella was not present in results from June 11 testing, which was collected after a second resident within a year was diagnosed with Legionnaires.

This is the second water restriction at The Brielle in the past year. A five-month water restriction was lifted in April after the first illness was confirmed last November.

“The Brielle has spared no expense to monitor the system and mitigate this problem,” a spokesperson for The Brielle said, “and as evidenced by the fact that 25 out of 26 samples were negative, it is working.”

After the November diagnosis, officials at The Brielle installed a $50,000 supplemental disinfectant system that cost $15,000 to install. The electronic system was designed for 24/7 monitoring of bacteria and chlorine levels in the facility’s water system and alert management of abnormalities.

Both residents have recovered, although no additional information on either was released. The illnesses represent the third time in four years that a resident at The Brielle contracted Legionnaires’ disease; the first illness occurred in 2016.

Sickened in Sheraton Atlanta outbreak? Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or someone you know was sickened in this Sheraton Atlanta outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The Sheraton Atlanta outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease exploded as health officials announced the addition of 55 probable cases to go along with 11 confirmed cases – and that number will undoubtedly continue to grow.

Surveillance by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Fulton County Board of Health (FCBOH) helped uncover the suspected cases. Epidemiologists reviewed hundreds of survey responses from individuals who were guests of or visited the Sheraton Atlanta during the exposure period (June 12 to July 15).

The survey information also helps health officials understand where people were in the hotel as those officials try to pinpoint the source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease.

The “probable” cases have not been confirmed in a lab but involve people with illnesses consistent with Legionnaires’ disease, such as pneumonia and flu.

About one in 10 people who come down with Legionnaires’ disease will die due to complications from the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To date, there have been no fatalities connected to this outbreak.

Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: timeline
  • July 15: DPH confirms three cases connected to Sheraton Atlanta, and hotel officials announce that they are voluntarily closing the hotel until at least Aug. 11.
  • July 17: Three more cases are identified, increasing the number sickened to six.
  • July 22: Case count grows again as three more illnesses are announced.
  • July 24: The tally reaches double digits as the 10th case is diagnosed.
  • July 26: An 11th case is confirmed.
  • July 30: DPH announces 55 probable cases connected to the outbreak, but no new confirmed cases.

Because Legionella has not been found yet, officials can’t confirm the hotel as the source. However, no other locations are being investigated or tested.

The Sheraton Atlanta, located on Courtland Street, is the sixth-largest hotel in Atlanta with 763 rooms. The hotel shut down voluntarily “out of an abundance of caution,” and for environmental testing. The first samples were collected July 11, and a second round of testing was completed July 29.

Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: likely sources

Legionella bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • water systems of large buildings (hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.)
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers, like those used on large buildings such as hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • swimming pools, whirlpools, hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.
Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: ‘thousands’ contacted

Officials for the state of Georgia are contacting thousands of people who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta in June and July.

“If an individual, for example, has attended a conference at that hotel, we reach out to the conference organizers to see if they’ve heard of anyone,” said Cherie Drenzek, the state epidemiologist.

Some conferences that took place at the Sheraton Atlanta during the exposure period, but not a complete list, include:

  • Ranger Stop & Pop Con, June 21-23
  • National Adoption Conference, June 25-27
  • 41st Syn-Lod and the 50th Anniversary of Top Teens of America, June 26-July 2
  • Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America National Conference, July 4-6.
Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: be wary

State health officials are advising that if you were a guest, visitor, or employee at the Sheraton Atlanta during the exposure period and you are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should visit your health-care provider.

The DPH said that when seeking treatment, individuals should tell their health-care professional that they stayed at a hotel with a Legionella outbreak. This can help with proper treatment and assist with the investigation.

Even if you’ve visited the hotel more recently, if you’re exhibiting the symptoms below since your visit, you should seek medical attention to be safe.

Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

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

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

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

Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person. The condition is treatable with antibiotics when diagnosed early enough, although if that does not occur, it can lead to severe complications.

A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease known as Pontiac fever may produce similar symptoms, including a fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. Pontiac fever, however, doesn’t infect the lungs.

Sheraton Atlanta outbreak: high risk

“Legionnaires’ disease is not caused by a vaccine-preventable bug. It’s not a vaccine-preventable disease, and it’s not a communicable infectious disease,” Allison Chamberlain of the Emory Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research told the Augusta Chronicle. “While most people won’t get sick, those with underlying respiratory issues or perhaps those who are immuno-compromised are at greater risk.”

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the highest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

Sick with Legionnaires?
Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened with Legionnaires at Rush Oak Park Hospital, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Rush Oak Park Hospital is the latest Chicago-area hospital being investigated for a possible Legionnaires’ disease outbreak after two patients were diagnosed with the sometimes-deadly pneumonia-like illness.

The two victims were patients at the hospital for only part of the time when they were likely exposed to Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). One was admitted in May, the other in mid-July.

Two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella is how long it takes for the disease to develop, so it’s unclear if the hospital was the source of the exposure.

The IDPH, however, confirmed in a press release that “previous water samples collected by the hospital” tested positive for Legionella. The IDPH is teaming with the Oak Park Department of Public Health and the hospital with data collection to pinpoint the source of the bacteria that caused the two illnesses.

Rush Oak Park: Legionella inhaled

Legionella are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • whirlpools and hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • swimming pools
  • decorative fountains.
Rush Oak Park: 4th in Chicago

The Rush Oak Park Hospital in Oak Park is the fourth Chicago-area hospital in four months that is being investigated by the IDPH for a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak:

Rush Oak Park: hospital skeptical

Rush Oak Park Hospital spokesperson Deb Song said the “likelihood of them contracting [Legionnaires’] here is unlikely.”

“The source of these two cases are yet to be determined,” Song told the Chicago Sun-Times. “The health and safety of our patients, visitors, and staff is of the utmost importance. Rush Oak Park Hospital has a comprehensive water-management program that follows the highest federal standards and CDC best practices.”

Hospital officials said they routinely conduct water tests, add disinfectant to the building water, flush pipes and install filters. They are conducting surveillance to identify other potential cases and to ensure appropriate testing and clinical management of patients

Rush Oak Park: growing problem

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection that 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 of the Respiratory Diseases Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cooley said she believes the increase is due to the rise in the susceptibility of the population – that is, more and more people are on immunosuppressive medications. Additionally, there could be more Legionella in the environment, with warmer temperatures creating the right conditions for bacterial growth.

Rush Oak Park: difficult diagnosis

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

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the highest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.
Rush Oak Park: symptoms

Legionnaires symptoms are similar to those of other types of pneumonia, and they even can resemble those of influenza (flu):

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

Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person. The condition is treatable with antibiotics when diagnosed early enough, although if that does not occur, it can lead to severe complications.

A mild form of Legionnaires’ disease — known as Pontiac fever — may produce signs and symptoms, including a fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn’t infect your lungs, and symptoms usually manifest within two to five days.

Rush Oak Park: complications

Hospitalization is usually necessary after a Legionnaires’ diagnosis. In the most severe cases, complications can occur; they include:

  • respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • septic shock: this can occur when Legionella produce toxins that enter the bloodstream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to the loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.
  • kidney failure: those same Legionella toxins can damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood, resulting in kidney failure.
  • endocarditis: an infection of the inner lining of the heart that can affect the ability of the heart to maintain adequate blood flow through the body.
  • pericarditis: swelling of the pericardium, which is the primary membrane around the heart. This can also affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body.

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.

Sick with Legionnaires?
Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Update, July 25: The Georgia Department of Health confirmed yet another case of Legionnaires’ disease in people who recently stayed at or visited the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, increasing the outbreak total to 10. The latest outbreak update comes only two days after health officials confirmed three additional cases.

The Sheraton Atlanta Hotel closed its doors on July 15, when officials announced the first three illnesses. The hotel is scheduled to stay closed through at least Aug. 11 as testing continues in an effort to pinpoint the source.

Original post, July 24: As the number of people infected with Legionnaires’ disease tripled at the downtown Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, hotel officials announced the hotel would remain closed for about three weeks.

When the outbreak first was announced July 15, there were three confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a sometimes-deadly respiratory illness. By July 19, however, the count had risen to nine. The only commonality between the nine victims is that all had been guests at the Sheraton Atlanta hotel.

Hotel management said the hotel would be closed to guests until at least August 11, as the building undergoes remediation (cleaning and disinfection) and environmental testing. More than 450 guests were relocated to other hotels, and future reservations were canceled or rebooked.

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel: investigation continues

Sheraton Atlanta general manager Ken Peduzzi confirmed that the Sheraton has hired environmental consultants to test the water in the pool, hot tub, water fountain, chillers, and other areas in the hotel.

“At this time, it remains unknown if the source of the exposure is located within the hotel,” Peduzzi was quoted in an e-mailed statement.

State and county health officials also collected samples from various areas throughout the hotel, but a definitive cause for the illnesses has not been discovered.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there have been close to 90 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the state this year. Last year, there were 180 confirmed cases, a significant increase from 41 in 2008.

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel: oversight lacking

Hospitals and nursing homes are required to bolster oversight of building water systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to harmful Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease. There is, however, little regulatory oversight of hotels, apartments, and other non-medical buildings.

“There’s not a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” said Elliott Olsen, who has filed Legionnaires lawsuits on behalf of patients and their families for more than two decades. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel: Legionnaires info

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. 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 every year. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor.

Numerous tests can be done
According to the Mayo Clinic, to help identify the presence of Legionella quickly, your doctor may use a test that checks your urine for Legionella antigens — foreign substances that trigger an immune system response. You may also have undergo one or more of the following:

  • blood tests
  • chest X-ray, which doesn’t confirm Legionnaires’ disease but can show the extent of infection in your lungs
  • tests on a sample of your sputum or lung tissue
  • CT scan of your brain or a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) if you have neurological symptoms such as confusion or trouble concentrating

Symptoms are numerous
Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious – that is, it cannot be passed from person to person. It usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella. It frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

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

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pains
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • 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.

High-risk categories
Anyone can get the disease, but those at the most significant risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.

Treated with antibiotics
Legionnaires’ disease requires treatment with antibiotics (medicines that kill bacteria in the body), and most cases of this illness can be treated successfully. However, if not diagnosed early, it can lead to severe complications.

Numerous complications
After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can occur; they include:

  • Respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • Septic shock: this can occur when Legionella produce toxins that enter the bloodstream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to the loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.
  • Kidney failure: those same Legionella toxins can damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood, resulting in kidney failure.
  • Endocarditis: an infection of the inner lining of the heart that can affect the ability of the heart to maintain adequate blood flow through the body.
  • Pericarditis: swelling of the pericardium, which is the primary membrane around the heart. This can also affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body.

Sick with Legionnaires?
Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires in this Bangor cluster, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) released a public health advisory regarding a Bangor cluster of six Legionnaires’ disease cases since November.

The cluster of cases, which has resulted in one death, has occurred at a rate higher than average for the area, prompting the advisory.

The Maine CDC investigation is attempting to identify if there is a single source of the Legionella bacteria in Penobscot County to determine whether the cases are connected. Legionella is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires, which is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection.

The six individuals, all of whom were hospitalized, live in the greater Bangor area and range in age from 50 to 85. It has not been determined whether Legionnaires was the cause of death of the man who passed, according to Jackie Farwell, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

“Maine CDC is announcing this investigation to make the public aware, but residents in the area do not need to take any specific actions in response,” Farwell said. “Maine CDC has alerted area health-care providers so they can consider testing for the illness, which could lead to the identification of additional cases. All cases must be reported to Maine CDC.”

Over the past five years, Penobscot County has averaged three Legionella cases per year. The state of Maine reported 33 cases in 2018. There were almost 7,500 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the United States in 2017.

Bangor is the county seat of Penobscot County and Maine’s third-largest city behind Portland and Lewiston.

Bangor cluster: Outbreak? Cluster?

When multiple cases are reported around the same proximity and within a designated period, the terms “cluster” and “outbreak” are used. 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 Bangor in such a short period.

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 where illnesses occurred – then the term “outbreak” would be used. The CDC would reclassify the Bangor cluster as an outbreak if a common source can be identified for two or more of the illnesses.

Bangor cluster: Testing uncovers Legionella

Environmental water testing by Maine CDC revealed detectable levels of Legionella in samples from the Orono-Veazie Water District (OVWD), a water utility company located in Orono that provides water for Orono and Veazie, neighboring cities of Bangor. Maine health officials confirmed that chlorine would be added to eliminate the bacteria.

Thus far, the strain of Legionella found in the Orono-Veazie Water District’s system isn’t connected to the six cases that are part of the Bangor cluster.

“Customers of the Orono-Veazie Water District may smell chlorine in their water,” Farwell told the Bangor Daily News. “This increased level of chlorine is not harmful, and the water remains safe to drink and use. Residents in the area do not need to take any action in response to the test results or higher chlorine levels.”

Maine CDC officials also assured residents that Legionella is not contracted by drinking water, so they should not avoid drinking water from this water district.

Up to 1995, when the OVWD water-treatment facility and water delivery system became fully operational, both cities had previously purchased their water supply from the Bangor Water District.

Bangor cluster: New CDC director

Dr. Nirav Shah took over as director of the Maine CDC in June. Previously, Shah was director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, where he was at the center of a Legionnaires’ disease controversy involving the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. State senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth called for Shah to resign his position after 15 veterans were killed and more than 60 were sickened during outbreaks that began in 2015 and spanned four consecutive years. During the first outbreak, there were more than 50 illnesses and 12 deaths.

Shah was Illinois’ director from 2015 until this February.

Bangor cluster: About 25,000 cases annually

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States yearly. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms.

Anyone can contract Legionnaires’ disease, but those at the most significant risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems.
Bangor cluster: Legionnaires symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

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

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • 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.

Sick with Legionnaires?
Call (612) 337-6126

Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Legionnaires’ disease outbreak has shut down the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel after at least five guests were diagnosed with the potentially deadly respiratory illness.

The Sheraton Atlanta, which is located at 165 Courtland Street NE in downtown Atlanta, has been closed for precautionary reasons while an investigation is conducted into the outbreak. The Fulton County Board of Health (BOH) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) are working jointly with hotel officials to determine the source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, an atypical pneumonia.

“The health and safety of our guests is our greatest priority,” Sheraton general manager Ken Peduzzi said in a written statement. “We are working closely with public health officials and outside experts to conduct testing to determine if Legionella is present at the hotel. As a result, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to close the hotel while we await the results.”

The hotel is expected to be closed for at least two weeks until testing is completed. No other locations are being investigated.

The individuals sickened were guests at the hotel in late June and early July. It is believed all were attending the same conference at the hotel.

Hotel officials learned of the first two cases last Friday. Three additional cases have since been confirmed, and one news source reported that six people have been sickened.

Sheraton Atlanta: pool area closed

On advice from DPH epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek, the hotel immediately closed off the pool area, which is considered the most likely source of Legionella.

“Because they (the guests) were so tightly clustered, we made some immediate control recommendations,” Drenzek said to 11Alive.com. “To be cautious, to be conservative – let’s close down those water fixtures so that we’re not posing anyone else to be at risk of Legionella infections.”

Sheraton Atlanta: about Legionnaires

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection that – according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the U.S. yearly. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms.

Legionella are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • water systems of large buildings (hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.)
  • swimming pools, whirlpools, hot tubs
  • large plumbing systems
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.

Warm, stagnant water provides the right conditions for growth of Legionella, which can multiply at temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sheraton Atlanta: guests relocated

About 450 guests were relocated to nearby hotels Monday after hotel officials decided to close the hotel. Guests with future reservations will be assisted in finding other accommodations.

The DPH is contacting every person who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta in June and July.  Drenzek also issued an alert to health departments in other states to be on the lookout for Legionnaires cases that might have originated at the Sheraton Atlanta.

Sheraton Atlanta: disease symptoms

The DPH recommends that guests, visitors to, or employees of the Sheraton Atlanta who are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms seek care from their health-care provider. Symptoms usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, and they frequently begin with:

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

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

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

Anyone can get the disease, but those at the most significant risk of infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease, such as COPD (most commonly, bronchitis or emphysema)
  • people with weakened immune systems.
Sheraton Atlanta: busy August

The Sheraton Atlanta is one of five host hotels for the 33rd Annual Dragon Con, the largest convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, comics, literature, art, music, and film, slated to take place Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.

More than 80,000 visitors are expected to pass through the Sheraton Atlanta throughout Labor Day weekend

Dragon Con organizers said they are working with the hotel’s management to “understand the situation, the solutions, and the timeframes involved.” Organizers said they are optimistic the hotel will be fully operational by Aug. 29.

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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients who have been harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member have contracted Legionnaires in one of these NYC outbreaks, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Two Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are under investigation by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health), one in Manhattan and the other in Queens.

NYC Health confirmed two cases of the respiratory illness at Manhattan Plaza (400 West 43rd Street) in Hell’s Kitchen, although no information was provided on when the residents took ill.

NYC Health also reported that two people have been sickened in Queens within the past 12 months at 20-02, 20-04, 20-06, 20-08, 20-10 and 20-12 Seagirt Boulevard, according to a notice posted on Twitter.

“The risk of getting sick from a building’s water system is very low, especially for healthy people” according to NYC Health commissioner Oxiris Barbot, in a notice to tenants. “The most important thing you can do is get medical attention right away if you start having symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough. This is even more important if you are aged 50 or older (especially if you smoke cigarettes), have chronic lung disease, have a weakened immune system or take medicines that weaken your immune system.”

The notice also provided the following list of Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DON’T take a shower – not even a cool shower – since it could create water vapor (mist). Instead, take a bath, but fill the tub slowly. Try to minimize time in the bathroom while the tub is filling. If you don’t have a bathtub, either take a sponge bath or contact building management for a modified shower option.
  • DO: It’s fine to wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating a mist.
  • DO: It’s fine to drink cold water from the tap, but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee or cooking.
  • DON’T wear a mask. It’s unnecessary.

NYC Health is working with building management at both locations, testing the water to try and locate a source for the Legionella, which is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

Manhattan Plaza is located two blocks west of the city’s theater district and has been dubbed “Broadway’s Bedroom,” as 70 percent of the building’s nearly 1,700 units are occupied by performing artists, with the balance held by elderly tenants and residents living in subsidized housing.

NYC outbreaks: woes across state

Since July of last year, New York City has battled numerous outbreaks, including these incidents:

  • The Brielle at Seaview, a non-profit, assisted-living facility for seniors on Staten Island, suffered an outbreak last month when a second case of the disease was diagnosed within eight months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a Legionnaires’ disease “outbreak” as two or more cases associated with the same possible source during a 12-month period.
  • In February, NYC Health confirmed that two cases of  Legionnaires’ disease occurred at the Bronx River Houses within the past year.
  • Two cases of Legionnaires also were confirmed last November and December at Park Slope’s New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.
  • The Sugar Hill Project was confirmed as the source for two outbreaks in upper Manhattan in 2018, outbreaks that resulted in two deaths and almost 60 people sickened.
  • In October 2018, Legionella was detected at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence in Long Island City after a second Legionnaires’ disease case was confirmed within the last year.
  • In July 2018, two individuals were diagnosed with Legionnaires at Clinton Manor, a housing development in Hell’s Kitchen.
NYC outbreaks: warm water problematic

According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (scientific name: Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States every year. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • whirlpools and hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • swimming pools
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • decorative fountains
  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • large plumbing systems
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers.
NYC outbreaks: disease complications

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can occur, including:

  • respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • septic shock: this can occur when Legionella produce toxins that enter the bloodstream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to the loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.
  • kidney failure: those same Legionella toxins can damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood, resulting in kidney failure.
  • endocarditis: an infection of the inner lining of the heart that can affect the strength of the heart to maintain adequate blood flow through the body.
  • pericarditis: swelling of the pericardium, which is the primary membrane around the heart. This can also affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body.
NYC outbreaks: disease symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

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

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

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain (pleurisy)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • 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.

Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients who have been harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you are one of the Maryland transit workers who contracted Legionnaires, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Two Maryland Transportation Authority employees contracted Legionnaires’ disease, compelling MTA officials to close the administration building at the Interstate 895/Baltimore Harbor Tunnel toll plaza.

In addition, MTA officials automated the toll booths after learning of the two cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially deadly form of bacterial pneumonia. The MTA said in a statement that the two employees have received medical treatment.

Said Pete Rahn, who serves as both MTA chairman and state transportation secretary: “While there’s no confirmation that the building is the source of the illness, we believe the safety of our employees and visitors to the administration building dictates that we close the facility while tests are conducted.”

Legionnaires’ disease occurs when Legionella bacteria are inhaled in the form of microscopic water droplets, such as vapor or mist. Legionella thrive in warm water and are found primarily in human-made environments (see below).

Maryland transit workers: tolls automated

Most of the MTA employees who work at the administrative building and the toll plaza have been put on administrative leave, and some are working from other MTA sites.

The cash-payment lanes are now automated, operating like cashless toll lanes. That means that drivers who do not have E-ZPass transponders may drive without stopping, and the state will capture video of the vehicles and send bills for the toll amount.

MTA officials said they are proactively treating water systems at the site, adding that they do not know how long employees will be kept from the site.

Maryland Department of Health (MDH) statistics show that there were 361 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the state in 2018.

Maryland transit workers: difficult diagnosis

Legionnaires’ disease – also known as Legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that, on average, there are about 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (scientific name: Legionella pneumophila) annually in the United States. Only about 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms, which at the outset usually include:

  • severe headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills and fever.

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

  • cough, which often produces mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • pleurisy, which causes severe chest pain (pleuritic pain)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • confusion.
Maryland transit workers: high-risk groups

Anyone can become sick with Legionnaires’ disease, but people with the greatest risk of infection include:

  • anyone over the age of 50
  • anyone who smokes or has smoked
  • anyone with a chronic lung disease, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, most commonly emphysema or bronchitis)
  • alcoholics.

The list also includes anyone with an immune system compromised because of:

  • frequent and recurring pneumonia, sinus and ear infections, meningitis, and skin infections
  • inflammation or infection of the organs
  • blood disorders, such as anemia or low platelet counts
  • delayed growth and development.
Maryland transit workers: hot spots

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), warm, stagnant water provides the right conditions for Legionella bacteria to grow. The bacteria can multiply at temperatures between 68 degrees and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and temperatures of 90 degrees to 105 degrees provide the optimal conditions for growth.

The types of environments best suited to produce Legionella-friendly conditions – and which would apply in this situation – are:

  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • large plumbing systems
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets.
Maryland transit workers: serious consequences

The severity of Legionnaires’ disease is illustrated in an Epidemiology & Infection study from the University of Minnesota. Based on data from the CDC and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), “approximately 9 percent of legionellosis cases, caused by waterborne Legionella bacteria, are fatal, and 40 percent require intensive care.”

Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Elliot Olsen has regained millions for clients harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at one of these two Detroit locations, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.


Legionella returns to Wayne State

Wayne State University in Detroit has shut down the cooling tower in the Old Main building on campus after elevated levels of Legionella bacteria were identified during routine testing, university officials said.

There have been no reports of any illnesses at the Detroit location due to the bacteria, according to WSU spokesperson Matt Lockwood, but the towers are being temporarily shut down to prevent a possible outbreak.

“In the course of ongoing, routine testing, we discovered elevated levels of Legionella in the Old Main cooling tower,” William R. Decatur, vice president of finance and business operations, was quoted in a university-wide email. “When this occurs, university protocol dictates that the cooling towers are immediately taken off-line so they can be disinfected and cleaned.”

Detroit locations: Legionella issues last year

In late May 2018, a WSU employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and a month later, in late June, two construction contractors working on campus apartments took ill with the pneumonia-like illness

Subsequent environmental testing detected the bacteria in three cooling towers and three bathrooms. Legionella were found in the cooling towers at the Towers Residential Suites, Purdy/Kresge Library, and the College of Education Building, as well as in bathrooms in the Faculty Administration Building, Scott Hall, and the Cohn Building.

Legionella found at Ford plant

Low levels of Legionella were found at Ford Motor Company’s Ford Rouge Center in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit. The results were confirmed by Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker.

The company released the information after media reports surfaced that the car manufacturer sent letters to employees informing them of the discovery of the bacteria in three locations at the plant: two restrooms and the medical department.

Detroit locations: Statement from Ford officials

“We take the safety of our workforce very seriously. We regularly test for Legionella out of an abundance of caution, and (we) have a comprehensive, industry-leading, water-quality management process that includes steps to take if Legionella bacteria are found.

“The Ford protocol is more stringent than federal guidelines. Following that process, in each of those cases, we immediately disinfected the equipment where the bacteria were found. The level of Legionella detected in our recent sampling is very low and does not present a health risk to our workforce. We are not aware of any employees that have contracted the bacteria.”

As many as 6,000 employees work at the 600-acre site where the F-150 and F-150 Raptor pickup trucks are built. The Rouge is Ford’s largest single industrial complex. At its peak in the 1930s, more than 100,000 people worked at the complex.

In December 2017, a “low concentration” of bacteria was found in the cooling tower at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, after an employee was confirmed with Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires info

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.

Approximately one in 10 patients infected with Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – will die from the infection.

Detroit locations: high-risk groups

Anyone can get the disease, but those with the highest risk of infection include:

  • people 50 years old or older
  • smokers (current or former)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], most commonly bronchitis or emphysema)
  • people with weakened immune systems (those suffering from conditions such as diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, or infected with HIV)
  • organ-transplant recipients (kidney, heart, etc.)
  • individuals following specific drug protocols (for instance, corticosteroids)

Even relatively healthy individuals have been known to contract the disease, although less typically.

Detroit locations: common symptoms

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease look like other forms of pneumonia or even flu, which is why so many cases go unreported every year. Early symptoms can include the following:

  • chills
  • fever (potentially 104 degrees or higher)
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches.

After the first few days of the disease presenting, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • chest pain when breathing (called pleurisy or pleuritic chest pain, due to inflamed lungs)
  • confusion and agitation
  • a cough, which may bring up mucus and blood
  • diarrhea (about one-third of all cases result in gastrointestinal problems)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • shortness of breath.

(Note: There is also a mild form of Legionnaires’ disease called Pontiac fever, which can produce similar symptoms that include fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn’t infect the lungs, however, and symptoms usually manifest within two to five days.)

Detroit locations: Legionella sources

The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments. Outbreaks have been linked to numerous sources, such as:

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

People also can contract Legionnaires’ disease by the aspiration of contaminated drinking water – that is, choking or coughing while drinking can cause water to go down the wrong pipe into the lungs. It’s also possible to contract Legionnaires’ disease from home plumbing systems, although the vast majority of outbreaks have occurred in large buildings because complex systems allow the bacteria to grow and spread more quickly.