What is Legionella and is this something you should be concerned about? According to CNN, the rare disease which surfaced nearly 40 years ago has made a comeback and it is time to become more aware of the symptoms the disease carries along with it.
Hospitals and long-term care facilities are places where you should be able to go to receive health care and get well, not get another infection says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And they are right. When a sick patient enters a hospital or an elderly and frail individual winds up living in a nursing home, they are much more susceptible to contracting the illnesses that are present in these facilities.
And unfortunately, it would appear Legionella, also identified as Legionellosis, has been found in several different facilities that cater to the ill and elderly.
Some cases might be attributed to the lax health care workers as they aren’t taking the necessary precautions they should nor are they maintaining a clean and sanitized environment. So, what could this mean for you or loved one who find themselves staying in one of these health care facilities?
What is Legionella?
Legionellosis is a disease that stems from Legionella bacteria. The bacteria are known to cause “a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called Legionnaires’ disease.” It can also bring out symptoms similar to that of someone suffering from a mild case of the flu. This is identified as Pontiac fever. Although the disease caused many deaths in the past and was linked to many illnesses as well marking it as the CDC’s largest outbreak investigation to date, “it is increasing in incidence and now recognized that many infections in the United States can be prevented.”
The CDC began looking at city and state data “on healthcare source for Legionnaires’ disease” and it was discovered that 76% involved residents who had become infected with the disease. Hotels, long-term care facilities, and hospitals are some of the most common places that are associated with Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. Among the cases that were analyzed “four out of five who contracted the illnesses did so in long-term care facilities, one of five in hospitals, and some of the cases included those who stayed in both facilities.
How Can Health Care Facilities Prevent the Spread of Legionella?
Nursing homes and hospitals are expected to maintain a clean and healthy environment and this alone can prevent the spread of diseases and illnesses. Many patients staying in these places often become ill and some even die resulting in nursing home abuse lawsuits. Many families lose their loved ones to these illnesses and feel the death could have been prevented had the staff kept the facility clean.
Some things that can be done to prevent the spread of Legionella include:
- “Doctors can “think Legionella” when treating patients at increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease who have health care-associated pneumonia.”
- Doctors can test for Legionnaires’ disease when a patient is suffering from pneumonia-related symptoms.
- “Health care facility leaders can maintain a safe water program by building a team and executing a safe water plan.”
Did you lose a loved one who contracted an illness during their stay in a nursing home?
While some cases aren’t preventable, if you can prove that your loved one lost their life because a staff member or the facility they were staying in was negligent, consider consulting with a nursing home abuse lawyer in your city. They can provide you with some insight into how you can file suit and what you will need to do so.