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M&N News Alert: Recent Legionnaires Outbreak in Rhode Island

A doctor holding up an x-ray of lungs

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is reporting a significant increase of diagnosed Legionnaires’ Disease cases from June 2, 2021, through July 26, 2021. 30 people have been diagnosed with 28 of those diagnosed hospitalized. There has been no common source of exposure identified. (, July 26, 2021)

Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are serious and have the capacity to affect the health of thousands of people. Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia or lung infection that is not contagious. Its cause is a type of bacteria called Legionella, which can contaminate the mist or water vapor in whirlpool spas, cooling towers, air-conditioning units for large buildings, and water used for drinking and bathing. Inhaling these contaminated mists or vapors can cause Legionnaires’ disease.

Although rare, nearly a quarter of all Legionnaires’ disease cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are linked to travel; with hotels being a common origin of the disease. In many cases, improper water maintenance procedures cause bacteria to develop and infect unsuspecting hotel guests and employees. The recent cases in Rhode Island may be linked to the lack of usage in buildings due to Covid-19.

Individuals at the greatest risk of suffering symptoms from exposure to Legionella are people 50-years-old and older; current or former smokers; and those with chronic lung disease, weak immune system, cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure.

Common symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include high fever, chills, cough, headaches, and muscle aches. This disease is challenging to diagnose because of its similarity to other forms of pneumonia. However, chest X-rays and testing of phlegm, blood, or urine are often used to diagnose Legionnaires’ disease. Signs of symptoms typically develop 2 to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria.  Though Legionnaires’ disease can be deadly (5-30% of all cases are fatal), the majority of cases are effectively treated with antibiotics.

At Marasco & Nesselbush, our Rhode Island personal injury team understands the many financial, physical, and emotional hurdles you must overcome after contracting such a serious disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with Legionnaires disease, call us today at 401-443-2999.

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