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What You Need to Know About Legionnaires' Disease

There’s something immensely satisfying about taking a nice sip of water when you’re extremely thirsty or jumping into a swimming pool when it’s hot outside. However, while the water may seem comfortable and refreshing, the truth is there’s a risk you may not even recognize. Legionella bacteria is a unique breed of organisms that isn’t transferred by person-to-person contact, but rather through the water itself. And this is particularly dangerous because this bacteria can cause legionnaire’s disease—a severe form of pneumonia that is treatable, but has an alarmingly high fatality rate amongst those who are older, have a compromised immune system, chronic lung disease, or heavy tobacco users.

Every year, an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 people are infected with this bacteria and if left untreated, this disease could ultimately be fatal. Common symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease look a lot like the flu or pneumonia: headache, muscle pain, chills, and high fever. After a few days, a severe cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, and nausea could all take root as well. If you suspect that you may have contracted this disease, you should seek medical attention immediately.

How Common Is Legionella Bacteria?

Legionnaires’ disease may not necessarily be an extremely common illness, but it’s one where the risk is far more common than most people recognize. Legionella bacteria is found in sources of water that many people believe or assume are free and clear of any major hazards, such as drinking fountains, swimming pools, and bathroom sinks. Perhaps the easiest way to contract the disease is to breathe in mist which contains the bacteria.

Getting rid of the problem is difficult, but not impossible. For most cases, affected building owners need to have a plumber come to the facility and conduct a chlorination process which eliminates all bacterial in the pipes carrying the potentially affected water.

Liability for Legionella

Property owners who provide these water sources to patrons have a duty to ensure that the water is free and clear from potential hazards that can cause serious disease, such as legionella. In most cases, when legionella bacteria has caused patrons to fall ill as a result of one of these water sources, the liability falls on the property’s owners or operators. As a result, hotels, housing facilities, cruise ships, multi-family residential complexes, and even hospitals could potentially be implicated and held accountable for their negligence.

In order to prove liability, you must demonstrate that three circumstances are true:

  • That you were exposed to legionella bacteria
  • That you were exposed to the bacteria at the premises in question
  • That the exposure to legionella caused your illness
  • That the exposure to legionella occurred because of negligence of some kind

Legionnaires’ disease has a latency period of anywhere from two to fourteen days. If your disease manifests itself after this two week period, it’s exceedingly difficult to argue that the disease was caused by exposure to a water source at the premises in question. It’s strongly advised you seek assistance from a Stuart personal injury attorney if you believe that your disease may have been caused from negligence and a contaminated water source on someone else’s property.

Call Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC at (866) 675-4427 to request a case evaluation today.