Why Have 200+ Illinois Residents Contracted Legionnaires’ Disease in 2019?
Legionnaires’ disease continues to menace elderly Illinois residents.
Since August, Covenant Living at the Holmstad, a retirement community in Batavia, has reported eight cases of the deadly disease. Just weeks ago, the Manteno Veterans’ Home reported a case– its second this year– and two guests at a Schaumburg hotel were victimized in recent weeks.
These reports have once again cast a spotlight on a disease that first gained notoriety at a 1976 American Legion convention in Philadelphia where the outbreak was first identified.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
As we blogged in 2018, Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory illness caused by exposure to Legionella bacteria. It is typically contracted from hotels, motels, apartment buildings, office buildings, warehouses, production facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, and other medical facilities. People contract the disease when they breathe in small droplets of water containing bacteria that has grown in improperly designed or maintained building water systems.
Is Legionnaires’ disease an elderly person’s disease?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the elderly are run a greater risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease — but so does anyone with a compromised immune system. Per the Cleveland Clinic website, “[y]ou have an increased risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease if you:
- Are older than 50
- Smoke cigarettes (or used to)
- Have a weakened immune system (or take medication that suppresses the immune system, such as chemotherapy)
- Have certain health conditions, such as:
Why do we hear about Legionnaires’ disease occurring at nursing homes and hotels?
As the Cleveland Clinic notes, the bacteria can grow when certain human-made water structures aren’t maintained with proper disinfectants. Tiny droplets of water rising from those water systems can make the Legionella bacteria go air borne. Breathing air that contains the bacteria can cause someone to get the disease.
The systems at a greater risk for spreading Legionella include hot tubs, showerheads, faucets, fountains, and air conditioning units for large buildings – all of which are present in care facilities and hotels. And, of course, nursing homes residents are composed of an at-risk population.
Why the increase in reports nationally?
According to USA Today, there are a number of reasons why we’re seeing an increase in reports of Legionnaires’ disease. They include:
- Better awareness, improved testing, and an aging population more susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease.
- Poor oversight at the facilities where Legionnaires’ disease is more likely to happen. As the article reports, “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires hospitals and nursing homes to bolster oversight of building water systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to harmful bacteria. There’s little regulatory oversight at apartments, hotels and other nonmedical buildings.”
That said, as of September, Illinois is on track to report fewer cases in 2019 than in 2018.
Is Legionnaires’ disease treatable?
It is possible to cure Legionnaires’ disease with antibiotics. But the disease must be detected early. Properly maintained facilities are the key to preventing outbreaks in the first place. Unfortunately, this terrible disease is often misunderstood. And victims may not even be aware that they have it. People needing legal assistance also discover that few attorneys possess the specialized knowledge of Legionnaires’ disease to help.
What should I do if a loved one has suffered from Legionnaires’ disease?
We advise you to consult with an attorney with experience representing victims of Legionnaire’s disease. At Capron & Avgerinos, we’ve seen firsthand how devastating Legionnaires’ disease can be. We have collected millions of dollars on behalf of individuals and the families of individuals who have contracted Legionnaires’ disease. On our website, we answer questions you might be asking as the disease remains in the public eye. Please read our discussion on Legionnaires’ disease to understand this illness in more detail and become more aware.
Call Capron & Avgerinos
Call Capron & Avgerinos now at (855) 208-3904 if you need help with a Legionnaires’ disease personal injury case in Illinois or Iowa. As your Illinois and Iowa Injury Network, we are ready to assist you over the phone or in person. We perform our cases on a contingent fee basis, which means we are not paid unless you recover compensation for your claim. Call Capron & Avgerinos at (855) 208-3904 – let us show how we can deliver results for you.