There has been an outbreak of a very severe type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, also known as Legionnaires’ disease all across the country. If you are unfamiliar with Legionnaires’ disease, it is a naturally occurring bacteria that typically grows in warm water. It’s most often found in hot tubs, hot water tanks, or air conditioning systems. It is only contracted when someone breathes in contaminated water such as mist or steam.
Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease are most common during the summer and fall, so it’s no surprise that there has already been an outbreak halfway into June. Multiple people across the country have contracted Legionnaires’ disease already. Two separate guests who stayed at the Las Vegas Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino have reportedly contracted Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria that causes this deadly type of pneumonia was found in the water system at the hotel. Because of the severity of this bacteria, the hotel is investigating the two cases and reaching out to all past and current guests. Because of the 1976 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, which killed 29 people, proper precautions are being taken to avoid fatalities.
However, that’s not the only business that has been affected. There have been two LA Fitness clubs in Florida that have closed due to reports that four clients have contracted the disease. In addition, traces of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease have been found in the water supply at a Manhattan police station. An officer became ill due to Legionnaires’ disease. As a precaution, the Health Department has recommended that nobody take hot showers and only use cold water for preparing food and beverages until further notice.
Symptoms and Treatment of Legionnaires’ Disease
Similar to other forms of pneumonia, the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
For relatively healthy people, the disease can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics. However, 1 out of every 10 people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will die due to complications from the illness.
It’s difficult to avoid all potential sources of Legionnaires’ disease, however it is smart to take precautions, such as avoiding hot tubs and steam rooms during an outbreak. However, people who smoke tend to contract the disease easier than those who do not.
If someone in your office has contracted the disease, they pose no immediate threat to you, as it is only contracted through breathing in water droplets, mist or steam. If you think that your office is a source of the bacteria, contact your local health department and avoid using hot water at the office in the meantime.
To learn more about Legionnaires’ disease and how you can prevent it, click here to download the Preparis’ Legionnaires’ Disease Checklist.