Sick with Legionnaires’?
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Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease, and he has regained millions of dollars for them. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ in this Hell’s Kitchen outbreak, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation, or complete the following:
DOHMH officials said they are testing the water for Legionella – the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease – at Clinton Manor, a two-building housing complex at 535 West 51st Street and 540 West 52nd Street.
The eight-story property, which was developed in 1981, has 235 residential units for Section 8 tenants. The complex also includes alternate addresses between 538 and 550 West 52nd Street.
The two people who became ill in July are residents of Clinton Manor. Both were hospitalized but have been released. No other information was provided on them.
(Note: Hell’s Kitchen is also called Clinton, which is the name used by the municipality of New York City.)
Hell’s Kitchen outbreak: residents warned
The DOHMH has urged Clinton Manor residents to avoid using hot water until testing shows that the system is clear of Legionella. Residents who are feeling symptoms of pneumonia or flu should seek immediate care from their health-care provider.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionnaires’ disease is often under-reported, so the full extent of the outbreak might never be known.
Hell’s Kitchen outbreak: busy summer
It has been another busy summer for Legionnaires’ disease in New York City.
On July 8, the DOHMH confirmed eight cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Hamilton Heights. Since that date, the case count in the cluster has increased to 27. One person has died.
Health officials also recently confirmed that Legionella bacteria were found in the water supply of the Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. No cases of Legionnaires’ disease have developed there.
(Note: From the CDC: “Outbreak refers to an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area. Cluster refers to an aggregation of cases grouped in place and time that are suspected to be greater than the number expected, even though the expected number may not be known.”)
Hell’s Kitchen outbreak: a look back
New York City’s largest outbreak happened in 2015. Cooling towers in the south Bronx were blamed for hosting Legionella that produced an outbreak in which 12 people died and more than 120 others sickened.
City statistics show that between 200 and 500 people are diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease on a yearly basis.
Hell’s Kitchen outbreak: Legionnaires’ primer
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially deadly type of pneumonia (lung infection). It is also known as legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia.
According to the CDC, there are about 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) every year in the United States. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.
Legionella bacteria 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.
Legionnaires’ disease generally develops betweens two and 10 days after one has been exposed to Legionella. Symptoms frequently begin with the following:
- muscle pains
- high fever, often 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
By the second or third day, other symptoms develop, such as:
- cough, which can bring up mucus and blood
- difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
- chest pain
- gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, etc.)
- confusion and other mental changes.
Most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years of age and older – especially those who smoke or have chronic lung conditions (COPD) – are at a higher risk. Other high-risk categories include:
- anyone with a weakened immune system
- heavy drinkers of alcohol
- organ-transplant recipients
- anyone on a specific drug protocol (corticosteroids, etc.).
Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and clusters have been linked to a number of sources, including:
- water systems, like those in apartment complexes, hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
- cooling towers of air conditioning systems
- plumbing systems in large buildings
- hot-water heaters and tanks
- bathroom faucets and showers
- swimming pools, whirlpools and hot tubs
- physical-therapy equipment
- mist machines, like those in the produce sections of grocery stores
- hand-held sprayers
- decorative fountains.
Warm weather = uptick in activity
Legionnaires’ disease occurs more frequently in hot and humid weather, which provides optimal conditions for the growth of Legionella. The bacteria are found primarily in human-made environments.
In an interview last year, Laura Cooley, MD, MPH for the CDC’s Respiratory Diseases Branch, said that Legionnaires’ disease is “an emerging disease in the sense that the number of recorded cases of Legionnaires’ in the United States continues to increase.”
Cooley said she believes that increase can be attributed to an increase in the susceptibility of the population: More and more people are using immunosuppressive medications. She also said there could be more Legionella in the environment because of the ever-increasing rise in temperatures due to climate change.