Legionnaires’ disease is a rare and serious type of pneumonia, which is a lung infection. You can get Legionnaires’ disease if you inhale bacteria called Legionella from the air. The disease is not usually contagious from person to person. It is very treatable but can become fatal if not addressed promptly.
What Causes Legionnaires’ Disease?
According to Mayo Clinic, Legionella is a bacteria that grows naturally in outdoor waters and soils. It becomes dangerous when it grows in building water systems. Legionella can show up in air conditioning systems, hot tubs, fountains, and even mist sprayers in grocery stores. Most outbreaks happen in large buildings, such as hotels.
Inside, Legionella can easily grow, multiply, and spread if water systems are not cleaned and tested properly. Most people develop Legionnaires’ disease after breathing the bacteria through tiny water droplets in the air. You can also contract it from working with contaminated soil or coughing or choking on infected liquids.
Common Outbreak Sources
Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks have happened in places like:
- Hotels, nursing homes, or hospitals
- Hot tubs, whirlpools, or swimming pools
- Air conditioning cooling towers
- Grocery stores
- Decorative fountains
What Are the Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease?
The initial symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease may include:
- High fever and chills
- Muscle pains
After two to three days, the disease may progress to symptoms like:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains
- Confusion, fatigue, or other mental problems
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
Symptoms usually develop between two and 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. If the Legionnaires’ disease is not treated quickly and effectively, serious or life-threatening conditions can sometimes develop like:
- Septic shock
- Respiratory failure
- Acute kidney failure
About one in 10 people who develop Legionnaires’ disease will die, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fast facts sheet. Around 6,100 Legionnaires’ disease cases in the United States were reported in 2016. That number may be low, however, as the disease is probably underdiagnosed.
If you have signs of Legionnaires’ disease or think you’ve been exposed to Legionella bacteria, see a doctor as soon as possible. Swift treatment is vital for recovery time and preventing serious symptoms.
Diagnosing Legionnaires’ Disease
Once you see your doctor, they may perform a number of tests for the disease. There is a urine test that looks for Legionella antigens. You may also be given a chest x-ray, blood test, or CT scan depending on your symptoms.
Is Legionnaires’ Disease Curable?
Legionnaires’ disease is cured with antibiotics. Many patients are hospitalized during treatment.
Prompt treatment is important for decreasing the chance of serious side effects or death. Even after treatment, some people may continue to experience problems from the disease.
There is another condition called Pontiac fever that you can get from Legionella bacteria exposure. It mimics the flu with milder symptoms than Legionnaires’ disease. While Legionnaires’ disease can be deadly, Pontiac fever typically goes away without treatment. However, it’s best to see your doctor, either way, to rule out Legionnaires’ disease.
Who Is Most Likely to Get Legionnaires’ Disease?
Anyone can get Legionnaires’ disease if they are exposed to Legionella bacteria. However, some people are more susceptible to the disease.
Those more likely to develop Legionnaires’ (and have more serious complications from it) include:
- Those with weakened immune systems
- People 50 years old or older
- Those with chronic lung disease, cancer, kidney disease, or other serious conditions
People may also be more vulnerable in places like nursing homes or hospitals. Germs are more common here and can spread easily.
Can Legionnaires’ Disease Be Prevented?
Yes. The biggest factor in prevention should be simple: keeping Legionella bacteria out of all building water systems. Businesses, especially those with complex water systems, must be diligent about cleaning, disinfecting, and testing to prevent the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria. If they are not, an outbreak can occur and infect many people.
The only thing a layperson can do to decrease their risk of infection is to avoid smoking. Otherwise, customers and visitors cannot prevent themselves from breathing the air. If they inhale Legionella from water vapor in the air, such as at a spa, spool, or common area, an infection can easily happen.
If businesses are not cleaning and maintaining their water systems carefully, bacteria can grow fast. When people get sick or die from Legionnaires’ disease because of an outbreak at a building, it’s a sign of negligence.
Legionnaires’ Disease at Sheraton Atlanta Outbreak Lawsuit
An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease happened recently at a Sheraton Hotel in Atlanta. Here are the details:
- The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed that Legionella bacteria was found in the hotel’s cooling systems and in a decorative fountain.
- Investigation began after 13 people were confirmed to have Legionnaires’ disease after visiting or staying in the hotel between June 12 and July 15, 2019.
- One of the patients died due to complications from the bacteria.
- There were also 66 other probable cases of the disease that haven’t been tested yet.
A victim has filed a lawsuit against the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, claiming negligence in operating and maintaining their water systems. If you developed (or suspect you have) Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, you may also have a case. Contact a personal injury lawyer today to know your options.
Talk to a Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyer for FREE Now
If you or a loved one was sick with or died from Legionnaires’ disease after staying at an establishment, call John Foy & Associates today. You may be entitled to compensation for your costs and suffering.
Someone’s negligence may have caused your infection. You should not have to pay for the costs of your treatment if you had no part in your infection. If a loved one was killed because of Legionnaires’ disease, you may be able to seek compensation through a wrongful death case.
We have been helping injury victims for over 20 years, and this case is no exception. Working with us is risk-free. We don’t take a fee unless we win you money. To get started with a FREE consultation today, call us at (404) 400-4000 or fill out the online contact us form.