Nova Scotia Public Health has confirmed nine cases of Legionella bacterial infections, with another 20 suspected cases, in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Public Health has identified the Aberdeen Hospital cooling towers as a possible source of the disease-causing bacteria, with potential exposures starting July 1, 2023.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by inhaling the bacteria Legionella. Left untreated, Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal. Even when promptly treated with antibiotics, health problems can linger for months or even years.
Infection with Legionella bacteria can occur from drinking contaminated water or exposure to water droplets produced by heating or cooling systems. Although the bacteria occur naturally in freshwater environments, outbreaks can occur in hospitals, office buildings, and hotels that have large water systems that allow the bacteria to grow and spread. Once exposed, up to 5% of the general population have been found to develop the disease.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include headache, muscle aches, and fever that develop between two to 14 days after exposure. Following these initial symptoms, an infected individual can develop a cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, or other mental changes. Untreated, Legionnaires’ disease can lead to respiratory failure, septic shock, or acute kidney failure. Up to 10% of people who develop Legionnaires’ disease will die of complications.
Outbreaks are preventable but require buildings to have good water management systems to ensure that the water is monitored, cleaned appropriately, and kept at the proper temperatures. In heating and cooling systems, it is imperative that water stagnation is prevented and disinfection is performed regularly. This includes both drinking water and air systems, as both are potential sources of infection.
If you think you have been exposed to Legionella bacteria you should see your doctor, as diagnosing and treating Legionnaires’ disease as soon as possible can improve recovery.
Our personal injury lawyers are ready to help you with any questions or concerns you may have about Legionnaires’ disease and resulting injury. Our experienced legal team will listen to your concerns and review whether or not you are eligible for fair compensation. Talk to our team now for a free, no obligation consultation.
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