Sick with Legionnaires?
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Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions for clients. If you or a family member were sickened at St. John’s Fountain Lake in Albert Lea, Minnesota, you might have cause to file a Legionnaires lawsuit. Please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
Less than one year after a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak struck the St. John’s Fountain Lake care facility in Albert Lea, Minnesota, the serious respiratory illness has returned.
The senior community learned that a resident of The Woodlands, the community’s skilled nursing facility, has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially deadly respiratory illness. Between June and August last summer, five residents were sickened.
“One of the big questions is, ‘Why is this back?,’ ” Scot Spates, the facility’s CEO, told the Albert Lea Tribune.
St. John’s Fountain Lake opened in October 2017 and has approximately 100 residents. The facility provides numerous services for seniors: independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care, and short-term care.
St. John’s Fountain Lake:
Remediation performed after last year’s outbreak included a chemical treatment for the water system, and installation of filters on shower heads. Those efforts were spearheaded by Minnesota Valley Testing Laboratories, Inc., a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-certified lab that handled the testing of water samples, and Innovativational Concepts, Inc., a water-management consultant. The two companies have been rehired to conduct the assessment and remediation efforts against Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.
The Albert Lea Tribune reported that representatives from both companies and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDOH) recently used a method called “parallel water sampling.” This requires “all three entities” to collect samples from the same water sources for testing.
Samples were taken at the two water mains – one feeds the independent living apartment and assisted living memory care building, and the other feeds the nursing home – and chlorine levels also were tested there. In addition, samples were taken at water heaters, two tub rooms, and a few resident rooms.
Preliminary results are expected soon. If the results are positive for Legionella, further testing will be performed, and those results won’t be available until the end of the month.
St. John’s Fountain Lake:
Spates said that, based on the recommendation of an MDOH epidemiologist, St. John’s Fountain Lake has implemented temporary water restrictions. Those require that residents not drink from water faucets, use ice machines, or take showers. Also, bottled water is being supplied to each apartment and resident room.
Bathing is allowed in the facility’s tub rooms or in resident’s rooms that have a bathtub. Flushing of the toilets also is permitted. The restrictions will be enforced until the MDOH gives the all-clear.
St. John’s Fountain Lake:
Legionnaires’ disease is also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia. It is similar to other types of pneumonia, which is an infection of the air sacs in one or both lungs that can produce fluid in the lungs.
Symptoms – which also can make it seem like one has flu – include:
- shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- headaches and muscle aches
- gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Anyone can contract Legionnaires’ disease, but people most susceptible to infection include:
- anyone 50 or older
- smokers, current or former
- anyone with a chronic lung disease or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder; most commonly, emphysema or bronchitis)
- anyone with a weakened immune system
- organ-transplant recipients
- anyone on a specific drug protocol, such as corticosteroids
According to the CDC, about 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (scientific name: Legionella pneumophila) occur annually in the U.S. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific symptoms.
In addition, 10 percent of those who become infected with Legionnaires’ disease will die from the infection.
Legionella are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (vapor or mist). The bacteria grow best in warm water, and they are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:
- large water systems, like those used in nursing homes, hospitals, and hotels
- swimming pools, whirlpools, and hot tubs
- bathroom showers and faucets
- hot water tanks and heaters
- physical-therapy equipment
- large plumbing systems
- mist machines, like those used in the produce sections of grocery stores
- hand-held sprayers
- decorative fountains
- cooling towers of air conditioning systems.
Legionnaires’ disease also can be contracted when a person “aspirates” contaminated drinking water – that is, they choke or cough while drinking, which causes the water to go down the wrong pipe and into the lungs. That happens very rarely.
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: