Thursday, June 5, 2014

Are You Ready for Legionnaires' Disease?

Okay!  Here Smith goes again!  Probably writing about the next so-called Flu Pandemic!

NO!  I'm still worried about the NEXT world wide flu pandemic, but today I'm stirring up concern about a disease that's here and now and beginning to give plaintiff's lawyers hope for a very profitable next few years.

If you are in the healthcare industry -- hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities or even operate a spa or a fitness center -- you need to pay attention to the steady spread of Legionnaires' disease.

Also if you own or lease space in a shopping center with one or more air conditioner cooling towers on the roof, you should be paying attention and have them tested for contaminated cooling water.

Alabama alone has confirmed 41 cases of the deadly pneumonia type  disease from 2013, with 15 cases at a nursing home in Florence, AL, including one death and already this year another 18 confirmed cases and 2 deaths.

Alabama Department of Public Health Dr. Mary G. McIntyre says there were 3,000 cases reported to the U.S. Center for Disease Control in 2013, but she says a more realistic "estimate" of people hospitalized by the bacteria could be as high as 18,000.

Cases of Legionnaire's disease are most common in hospitals and nursing homes housing very ill and elderly patients. In November 2012 the Veterans Hospital in Pittsburgh reported six deaths and at least 22 infected veterans.

The Dartmouth, MA Police Station has been locked down for weeks after Legionella bacteria was detected in the building's hot-water heating system. At least one officer was infected before the
building was temporarily abandoned.

The first identified cases of Legionnaires' disease came during the 1976 American Legion convention in Philadelphia.  182 Legionnaires got sick and 29 died and today most people hear the term "Legionnaires' Disease" and think that was something that happened  38-years ago.

There are almost weekly reports of scattered cases across the U.S. and it's popping up in Europe, too. In 2012 four people died and 45 others required hospital care in Edinburg, Scotland.

So, now we get to the point -- why you should care, beyond for your own and your families' health.

In Edinburgh, Scotland the law firm of Irwin Mitchell represents 35 families who are seeking financial reimbursement and punitive damages. And, in Tampa, FL the Fernandez Law Firm is pursuing personal injury lawsuits on behalf of two elderly residents of the Meadows at Country Wood Retirement Community.

They were sickened by the bacteria that grew in warm, stagnant water in a decorative fountain near their retirement home. A third resident died and his family has its own wrongful-death lawsuit.

This is one of those things ICM calls a "smoldering crisis."  It is preventable.  You can anticipate it and head it off, all for a very nominal cost and with almost no disruption in your day-to-day operations.