Legionnaires’ Disease – A Pervasive Threat

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.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include headache, muscle aches, and fever that develop 2-20 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; 5-10% of healthy people who develop Legionnaires’ disease will die of complications.

Although the Legionella bacteria occur naturally in freshwater environments, outbreaks of the disease can occur in office buildings, hotels, and hospitals that have large water systems that allow the bacteria to grow and spread. Infection can occur from contaminated microscopic water droplets produced by heating or cooling systems, or by aspirating contaminated drinking water. Once exposed, between 0.1% to 5.0% of the general population have been found to develop the disease.

Outbreaks are preventable but require buildings to have good water management systems to ensure that the water is monitored and cleaned appropriately and kept to the proper temperatures. In heating a 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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