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Elliot Olsen has regained millions for clients harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires in this Newark senior apartments outbreak, please call Elliot (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Newark senior apartments hit with Legionnaires outbreak

Three residents of a Newark senior apartments complex have contracted Legionnaires’ disease since early December. New Jersey health officials are investigating the outbreak at the Nevada Street Apartments (pictured).

Health officials in New Jersey are investigating after three residents of a Newark senior apartments complex contracted Legionnaires’ disease since the beginning of December.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced the outbreak last week at a news conference outside of Nevada Street Apartments, located at 2 Nevada Street, where officials believe all three cases originated. The 306-unit, Section 8 building for senior citizens is owned by Hudson Valley Property Group, which purchased it from Jonathan Rose Companies just last month.

Mayor Baraka also issued a public health alert during the news conference. “Residents here were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease,” he said. “We have to figure out exactly where it originated from.”

Information on the three residents’ conditions has not been released. One news report said all were in stable condition, while another said only one patient had recovered, and the status of the other two cases was “not immediately clear.”

Newark senior apartments:
Investigation ongoing

The water and cooling systems at Nevada Street Apartments are being tested to determine if the building is the source of the Legionella bacteria that caused the illnesses. Test results are expected back before the end of the month.

“It becomes more dangerous for folks that are elderly and immunodeficient,” the mayor said last week, “so it is very important for us to deal with it now, particularly since this is a senior building.”

People become infected when they breath in water droplets (mist or vapor) contaminated with Legionella. Water droplets – or “aerosolized water” – can come from a number of sources, including showers, faucets, hot tubs, humidifiers, and decorative fountains.

Dr. Mark Wade, director of the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, said city officials are working with the New Jersey Department of Health. “Just because these people were diagnosed in this building does not necessarily mean that (the bacteria) came from the water supply here,” Dr. Wade said. “We need to find out where it came from.”

Newark senior apartments:
City water woes

On Tuesday, the mayor said the outbreak is “separate and completely” independent from the city’s troubles with its drinking water.

“(Legionnaires’ disease) is not given to people through drinking water, not given to people through taking baths,” Baraka said during a news conference about efforts to remediate elevated lead levels in the city’s drinking water. “Legionnaires would not be a problem as it relates to the water source, it would be a problem that occurred in a specific building once it gets into the water system in that building.”

Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is suing the city over its handling of elevated lead levels in the water, said poor water-distribution systems can introduce Legionella into buildings.

“We’ve seen in other cases that a poorly maintained distributed system can be linked to Legionella being found in the system,” Olson said. “Often, what we see is that tap water introduces Legionella into the buildings, and the buildings have to have internal plumbing maintained to keep the Legionella from multiplying.”

Newark senior apartments:
Legionnaires symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other types of pneumonia, and they even can resemble those of influenza (flu). Those symptoms can include:

Newark senior apartments:
High-risk demographics

Legionnaires’ disease is also called Legionella pneumonia and legionellosis. In addition to elderly people, those most susceptible to infection include:

  • smokers, current or former
  • people with chronic lung disease, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, most commonly bronchitis and emphysema, which often occur together)
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • organ-transplant recipients
  • people on a specific drug protocol (or instance, corticosteroids)
  • alcoholics.

Newark senior apartments:
Difficult diagnosis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (scientific name: Legionella pneumophila) occur annually in the U.S., but only 5,000 cases are reported because of its nonspecific signs and symptoms. About 10 percent of people who become infected with Legionnaires’ disease will die from the infection.

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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: