What is Legionnaire’s Disease?
Legionnaire’s Disease is a form of pneumonia caused by inhalation of the legionella bacteria. The disease is usually contracted via inhalation of water or soil contaminated with this bacteria. While people of all ages are susceptible to this disease, it most often presents in the elderly. Those who smoke cigarettes or have prior lung conditions are at the highest risk. The symptoms of Legionnaire’s Disease include stomach aches, loss of appetite, muscle aches, headaches, confusion, fatigue, and a lower than normal heart rate. Patients have been known to develop a harsh cough, some even coughing up blood. Some patients also experience bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
The Current Outbreak
New York City is currently under the grips of a deadly outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease. As it stands, there have been 86 reported cases which have led to 7 total deaths. This current outbreak includes all cases reported since July of this year.
However, in the name of avoiding panic, it is important to note that the 7 deaths were all among older people, all of whom had previous, underlying medical conditions that either exacerbated, or were exacerbated by, the flu-like disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that between 5% – 30% of all those diagnosed with Legionnaire’s succumb to the disease.
The nomenclature professionals are using in relation to the range of this incident is “outbreak cluster.” This term refers to the vicinity considered affected or possibly affected by the outbreak. The incidences of this current outbreak have been confined to the South Bronx. Within this area is a hotel a hospital, and other towers, all of which have tested positive for legionella. Since Legionnaire’s Disease is a waterborne disease, authorities are investigating any water source that may have become tainted with the dangerous bacteria. Bad plumbing systems are often to blame during outbreaks of Legionnaire’s. However, “bad plumbing” casts a large swathe; finding the precise location of the source is therefore a difficult task. Heating and cooling units, water towers, and other peripheral systems alongside more traditional bathroom fixtures like toilets, showers and sinks mean that there are many possible culprits to consider. Comfortingly, there may have been a breakthrough in this case. Officials believe a cooling tower might be responsible for the outbreak. NYC authorities remain insistent, however, that the city’s water supply remains unaffected. If a cooling tower is indeed the body of water responsible for harboring the potentially-deadly germs, officials believe it is isolated.
So, hot and thirsty New Yorkers can confidently continue to drink city water. Water from the tap is still safe to drink!
While safety officials have done their due diligence in both testing all water in the local area, and have proceeded with cleaning procedures so as to rectify the situation and restore a completely healthy situation, there are no regular upkeep protocols currently in place to monitor for Legionnaire’s outbreaks. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio rejoined, however, that the city hadn’t recognized that a pattern had been emerging linking Legionnaire’s Disease with cooling towers. Now that the prevalence has been established, the city will prioritize their search methods to account for it, and will perform more routine check-ups on these auxiliary units.
When talking about medical incidents of this magnitude, it may be useful to touch briefly on medical malpractice. It’s important to remember, when dealing with potential cases of medical malpractice, that unfavorable outcomes do not always necessarily prove the existence of negligence. Without the existence of negligence on behalf of a hospital or its staff, it is unlikely for a legal team to prove malpractice. There are many cases wherein doctors follow every protocol by the book, are alert, attentive, and use their polished skills to the best of their abilities, yet are still unable to fix or cure a particular ailment. Negligence and malfeasance, however, are different stories altogether. If it can be proven that a doctor, or part of his medical team, was guilty of negligence, then it may be within your rights to sue. It is a sad and true fact that medical malpractice is a problem that must be addressed and adjudicated.
Every year, medical errors are responsible for the death of approximately 200,000 Americans.
Kaplan Lawyers PC
Nonetheless, it is important that if you, or any loved ones currently under your care, are experiencing any of the symptoms of Legionnaire’s Disease that we mentioned earlier, that you immediately seek professional medical help. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, your health is of paramount importance to us, and we beseech you to not take any ill feelings lightly while this outbreak is still at large. As always, it is better to be safe than sorry. And while we hope a doctor is able to summarily remedy your condition and quell your fears, we know that mistakes are sometimes made. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, medical malpractice cases are one of our specialties. Here, we have a compassionate and knowledgeable team of attorneys with long, successful track records of winning compensation for clients who have been victimized by medical malpractice. If you feel like the negligence or malicious intent of a doctor has caused you harm, don’t hesitate. Contact us today for a free consultation.