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Legionnaires' Disease

Officials: Legionnaires disease at Quincy Veterans Home

legionnaires-diseaseIllinois authorities confirm eight residents of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy have confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease.

Agency officials are working closely with the Adams County Health Department to identify and mitigate possible sources of the Legionellaoutbreak. Officials say test results are pending for other residents, and say so far no deaths are related to the outbreak.

Meantime, New York State and City officials have determined that cooling towers infected with Legionella bacteria are the source of a recent Legionnaires disease outbreak that has killed 12 and infected over 100 people.

Legionnaires disease is a severe respiratory infection that causes pneumonia-like symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, fever, and if left untreated, can cause lung failure and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 8,000 and 18,000 people every year are hospitalized with Legionnaires disease. It is caused when a person breathes in mist or water vapor contaminated with the bacteria.

Legionella bacteria grows naturally in the environment and thrives in areas with warm water such as hot tubs and cooling towers. Cooling towers, which are used for heating, air conditioning, and ventilation in buildings, can be a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria due to the large amounts of heated water. The bacteria can also be found in industrial operations. Pollution control equipment, such as air scrubbers, can distribute the bacteria through the air and can infect people miles away.

There is no state or local regulation in Chicago that requires regular inspections of cooling towers…

What should make the New York outbreak so scary for those who live or work in Chicago is that, like New York, cooling towers here are almost completely unregulated. There is no state or local regulation in Chicago that requires regular inspections of cooling towers, mandatory cleanings or quality control measures. Cooling towers that are not maintained or cleaned properly can infect hundreds of people who live, work, or even pass through a building.

The lawyers at GWC are experienced in handling environmental exposure cases, such as Legionnaires disease. Identifying the source of exposure early is critical in determining and establishing liability against a building owner, cleaning contractor, or industrial facility.

If you believe that you have developed Legionnaires disease, contact Colin O Malley or Michael Knobloch at GWC immediately to discuss your case.