Lack of Legionnaire’s Alert Upsets Guests; Woman Files Suit Against Another Hotel

Man says group wasn’t told of risk; suit filed against different hotel

ALBANY — Guests to one area hotel claim they weren’t warned about the presence of a potentially dangerous bacterial contamination on a visit this week, while a woman who fell ill last year after attending a conference at a different establishment is filing a lawsuit seeking damages.

Ken Cooper, a state canteen operator from Buffalo, checked in to Best Western Sovereign on Tuesday, one day after state tests confirmed the hotel’s water system was contaminated with legionnella bacteria.

Nobody at the front desk told him, Cooper said.

Cooper, who is legally blind, said he went to his room and noticed a white paper taped to the bathroom mirror. He couldn’t read it because of his vision impairment and almost ignored it, but Cooper said he decided to ask a hotel worker to read it to him.

The worker informed him about the bacteria risk at the hotel and told him the water temperature had been raised to help eliminate the bacteria, he said.

“We were pretty appalled that nobody was forthcoming with the information at the front desk,” Cooper said. “I felt I was done wrong.”

Cooper, who runs the canteen at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, was attending a meeting at the hotel for State Committee of Blind Vendors, whose members operate the numerous convenience stores located in state buildings throughout New York. The group talked over the situation but decided to remain at the hotel for the two-day meeting, he said.

Mansoor Mustafa, general manager of Best Western Sovereign, 1228 Western Ave., said in a statement: “My understanding is that someone in the group who was not sight impaired informed members of the group about the issue at the property.”

He would not comment on whether the group was told before they checked in.

Six cases of Legionnaires’ disease between September and December have been linked to the Western Avenue hotel. All of the people have recovered and hotel is taking steps to eliminate the bacteria from its aging water system. The hotel will flush out its water system on Sunday, according to the Albany County Health Department.

Legionnaires’ is a severe form of pneumonia. The disease is transmitted on water droplets that can come from shower mist, steam from a hot tub and air conditioners. Legionnella, a naturally occurring bacteria that is present in many bodies of water, is harmless at lower levels.

County health officials said the hotel is under orders to inform hotel guests about the elevated bacteria at the hotel.

On Friday, an Albany lawyer announced that he is filing a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who nearly died after allegedly contracting Legionnaires’ disease at another area hotel.

Lori Clark, 48, of Nassau, an associate project manager for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, attended a three-day training session at the Comfort Inn in East Greenbush in early January 2011. Clark did not stay overnight, but ate several meals and used the hotel’s restrooms.

Clark’s lawyer, Michael Conway, of the Albany law firm Harris, Conway & Donovan, said the hotel never informed Clark that there were elevated levels of legionnella despite tests done a month earlier that showed abnormal results. Days after her visit to the hotel, Clark said she and several coworkers developed flu-like symptoms. Clark, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, became critically ill. She went into septic shock and organ failure. Clark eventually recovered and has returned to work, though she mostly works from home and only has 50 percent lung function.

“They were negligent in cleaning up their mess and they had a lack of concern for the public,” Clark said about the hotel.

Nicole Nykorchuk, general manager at the Comfort Inn, said the hotel has no comment.

Conway said the hotel shut down their hot tub for a couple days and cleaned it.

“They appeared to have done nothing to clean the air system,” he said. “And they said nothing to folks staying there or visiting for conferences.”

Original article at:

Ontario Sees More Cases of Legionnaires’ Disease This Year

There have been a higher-than-normal number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Ontario this year, and health officials aren’t sure why.

The province has already seen 116 cases of the acute lung infection reported this year, compared to a total of 116 in 2010 and 69 in 2006, according to David Jansen, a spokesperson with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Legionnaires’ disease, which could be fatal in some cases, is spread through aerosolized water and soil, and not person-to-person contact.

The severity of the disease varies. Its commons symptoms are coughing, malaise, and fever.

In Ontario, an estimated 7,574 episodes are attributable to the bacterium causing the disease called legionella pneumophila each year.

Jansen said in an e-mail that health officials are not sure why the number of reported cases has gone up this year, “since there has been no common cause behind the cases in 2011.”

However, he notes that the high temperatures this past summer might have contributed to the rise in cases.

“This year’s long, hot summer may be a factor because warm water temperatures can contribute to the growth of legionella pneumophila,” he said.

Jensen recommends “proper maintenance of all mist-producing devices such as shower heads, hot tubs, whirlpools, and humidifiers” to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

Legionnaires’ disease is not easily diagnosed but can be treated with antibiotics in most cases.

Original article on The Epoch Times

Athens County has two cases of Legionnaire’s disease

September 20, 2011 – An Athens County health official on Tuesday confirmed that within the last week, two cases of Legionnaire’s disease have been diagnosed at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens.

One case reportedly involves a graduate student at Ohio University; the other, an out-of-county resident who apparently just came to O’Bleness as the nearest available hospital.

“We’re looking at this very closely,” said Chuck Hammer, administrator of the Athens City-County Health Department. “We’ve been aware of this since late last week.”

OU spokeswoman Jennifer Krisch confirmed Tuesday morning that “Yes, we have a graduate student with a confirmed case of Legionnaire’s disease.” She referred questions about the case to the Health Department.

In an internal OU e-mail obtained by The Athens NEWS, Steven Ross, director of the university’s School of Film, advised people in his department Sunday that a graduate student in that department had been taken ill the previous week and diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease at O’Bleness.

According to the email message, the graduate student, who is from New York, was transferred to a Columbus hospital.

Calls to the Columbus hospital seeking information on the student’s condition were not returned by the time this story was posted Tuesday.

Legionnaire’s disease is an acute respiratory infection caused by the Legionella bacteria.

According to Hammer of the Health Department, it is typically spread not from person to person, but though an infected shared water supply such as a hot tub, sprinkler system or air conditioner.

Hammer stressed that the disease poses a threat mainly to vulnerable populations such as the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.

“Generally speaking, Legionnaire’s disease can be quite mild,” he said.

Hammer said that state health officials have been informed of the two recent Athens County cases, and that investigators are working to try to find out if the two people diagnosed with the disease have any overlapping recent history, to suggest where they might have picked up the bacterium.

“There’s a little detective work that goes on,” he explained. Just because the two cases were both diagnosed in Athens County, he said, does not necessarily mean the source of the infection is here.

“There are a couple of cases of Legionella (locally), but we don’t know where they originated,” he said.

Hammer said he has heard from state health officials that there has been a “small uptick” in reports of Legionnaire’s disease across Ohio recently.

Ohio Department of Health spokesperson Tessie Pollock confirmed that a number of cases of Legionnaire’s disease are currently under investigation statewide, but added that these do not appear to be connected.

“So far, there is no indication of there being an outbreak,” Pollock said.

Original article from Athens News

Agency closes building after Legionnaire’s case

ALBANY — A state facility in Broome County used for programs for the disabled has been closed after a state worker came down with Legionnaire’s Disease, officials confirmed Tuesday.

The Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities closed its Tracy Creek Center in Vestal after an administrative employee came down with the illness last month; officials said the person did not come in contact with clients who attended day programs there.

Problems with the site have not been positively implicated in the illness. Civil Service Employees Association spokesman Stephen Madarasz noted the building had developed mold problems after trouble with the roof led to water in the ventilation system.

The union alerted OPWDD, which called in the Department of Labor to investigate, leading to the closure.

Madarasz said the administration moved quickly to address the problem.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the building could be reopened.

Original article at

Playboy Mansion Illness; Hot Tub Bacteria caused Legionnaires Disease

The Los Angeles County Health Officials have established that the bacteria which caused scores of people to suffer from Legionnaires Disease were traced to a hot tub at the Playboy Mansion where they attended a fundraiser in February.

The Health Officials from Los Angeles County presented the evidence at an annual conference at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. This legionella bacterium not only causes Legionnaires Disease but also Pontiac Fever, a milder illness that has fever and headache as its symptoms.

The people who attended the fundraiser at Playboy Mansion reported respiratory illness after the famous Domainfest conference which was held in February this year.

The Health Officials contacted 439 people and their finding reveal that out of these 439 people 123 people suffered fever and some other related symptoms while 69 of them fell ill on the same day.

We just hope that this finding is not going to affect the upcoming marriage of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner who is ready to tie the knot with his third wife this summer.

From 05 News

Dubai Hotel Faces $16.7 Million Legionnaires’ Disease Lawsuit

Travel Daily News reports that the suit claims that Thomas Boyle, from Britain, and Elodie Nogues, from France, contracted Legionnaires’ disease after staying at the Dubai Westin Mina Seyahi in January and February of 2009. The health of the pair deteriorated rapidly and resulted in hospital stays. A third guest, BBC radio commentator Bill Frindall, 69, passed away as a result of contracting the disease.

The legionella bacterion that causes Legionnaires’ (a form of pneumonia) can be found in natural water sources such as lakes and rivers, but also on occasion in man-made water systems such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, and also in air-conditioning units. People become infected by inhaling water droplets containing the bacterium. Since the disease was first identified in 1976 – at a meeting of retired US military personnel, or legionnaires – outbreaks have been linked to hotels, cruise ships, and other types of holiday accommodation. About 5-15% of cases prove fatal, with elderly people most at risk.

Boyle arrived at the Westin with his family on December, 2008, and left several days later, on January 6, 2009. On his return to the UK, the suit says he developed flu-like symptoms and his health deteriorated rapidly. He then spent a fortnight in a UK hospital having been diagnosed with the disease.

Nogues started to feel weak and feverish two days after checking into the hotel with her son and a friend on February 14. With her health deteriorating, she returned to France on February 21 where she was also diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

Frindall, a highly-regarded cricket scorer and broadcaster, returned to the UK on 20 January from a tour to Dubai with his charity cricket team, the Lord’s Taverners. His condition quickly deteriorated and he was not able to recover after one of his lungs collapsed. He passed away in Swindon Hospital on January 30. The team said no other members were showing symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease.

Following these incidents, Amalie Craig, a spokeswoman for Starwood said in a written statement that the company was “continuing to conduct a thorough investigation with independent assessors, including leading European and US based experts, to investigate whether legionella is present in the hotel.” The investigation was being conducted in co-operation with Dubai Municipality and Dubai Health Authorities.

A later statement by Starwood said that “no evidence of legionella has been found to date at the hotel based on initial testing by an independent accredited laboratory and the hotel’s systematic and regular audits,” and continued “although recent monitoring and testing has not revealed the presence of legionella at the property, hotel management is continuing to monitor the situation and has begun contacting guests and associates to advise them of the circumstances. The ongoing monitoring is intended to ensure that the hotel satisfies all requirements regarding the health, safety and welfare of hotel guests and associates.”

According to the lawsuit, both plaintiffs were unable to return to their normal lives having suffered from depression and anxiety. The New York Supreme Court is deciding whether the case can go to trial, a decision that could take up to a year to make.

Hotel in Dubai Faces $16.7 Million Lawsuit after Guests Contract Legionnaires’ Disease

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide is facing a $16.7 million lawsuit in the U.S. after two guests staying at the Westin Mina Seyahi in Dubai claim they caught Legionnaires’ disease at the property, reports Arabian Business.

The suit claims that Thomas Boyle, from Britain, and Elodie Nogues, from France, contracted the disease after staying at the Westin in January and February of 2009. It claims the health of the pair deteriorated rapidly and resulted in hospital stays. The disease is a form of pneumonia spread through airborne water droplets, which thrives in water and air-conditioning systems.

Boyle arrived at the Westin with his family in late December 2008, and left several days later, in January 2009. On his return to the UK, the suit says he developed flu-like symptoms and his health deteriorated rapidly. He then spent a fortnight in a UK hospital having been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

The paper reported that Nogues started to feel weak and feverish two days after checking into the hotel with her son and a friend on February 14. With her health deteriorating, she returned to France on February 21 where she was also diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

According to the lawsuit, both plaintiffs were unable to return to their normal lives having suffered from depression and anxiety. The New York Supreme Court is deciding whether the case can go to trial, a decision that could take up to a year to make.

Seventh Legionnaires Disease Case in Miami Valley Hospital Confirmed

DAYTON — A seventh Miami Valley Hospital patient has contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Hospital and Montgomery County public health officials on Tuesday had confirmed that one patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease — a Dayton man in his 70s — had died Feb. 21, and that two additional patients had contracted the disease, raising the total number of cases at the time to six.

The hospital announced the seventh case Wednesday afternoon.

The hospital said Legionella bacteria did not cause the man’s death. But the hospital declined to say if the disease was a contributing factor in the death, citing privacy concerns.

The hospital also said the physician filling out the man’s death certificate is not an employee of the hospital or its parent, Premier Health Partners.

The hospital said it has not yet received confirmation that Legionella bacteria had been present in the water system of its new patient tower. Another week could pass before those results are available.

Miami Valley instituted water restrictions in the new tower for three days last week after identifying the initial cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases.

Legionnaires’ disease got its name in 1976, when high numbers of people attending an American Legion convention contracted the lung infection. Each year, 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized with the disease in the U.S. It can cause death in 
5 percent to 30 percent of cases, but often is treated successfully with antibiotics.

From Dayton Daily News

OH hospital: Patients confirmed with Legionnaire’s

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A hospital in Ohio says four patients over 60 have confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease, possibly from contaminated water in a new hospital building.

Officials at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton say one of the patients remains hospitalized while the other three have been discharged. The Dayton Daily News reports the hospital has declined to comment on the condition of the four, all heart patients.

The hospital is investigating whether the bacteria came from plumbing in its $135 million patient tower, which began admitting people in December. Dozens of other patients in the tower were notified Wednesday.

Legionnaire’s is a potentially deadly form of pneumonia caused by waterborne bacteria. The Daily News reports the illnesses were confirmed through tests earlier this month that identified an “unusual cluster” of cases.

Information from: Dayton Daily News

Could You Have Had an Undiagnosed Legionella Infection?

Friday, February 18, 2011
San Diego, CA

The water-borne infections that struck guests of the Playboy Mansion are more common than you think.

According to the Los Angeles County Health Department, about 200 people who attended a recent Playboy Mansion fundraiser were infected by Legionella bacteria. Four of them came down with Legionnaires’ disease, a sometimes deadly pneumonia; the rest had Pontiac fever, a flu-like illness that lasts about three days.

As many as 18,000 people in the United States contract Legionnaires’ disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5% to 30% of whom die from it within a few days or weeks.

About 90% of Legionnaires’ cases go undetected, in part because physicians treat the pneumonia but don’t test for Legionella bacteria.

“That’s a big problem,” says Matt Freije, author of Protect Yourself from Legionnaires’ Disease: The waterborne illness that continues to kill and harm. “If Legionella is not recognized as the cause of the infection, then no investigation is performed to pinpoint and fix the plumbing system, hot tub, or other water system that caused it, and that water system can continue to make people sick.”

Pontiac fever is even less likely than Legionnaires’ disease to be diagnosed because it is less severe. Most of us don’t even go to the doctor when we get the flu, let alone try to find out what caused it. Generally, Pontiac fever is recognized only when physicians in the same vicinity report several flu-like illnesses at the same time, attracting the attention of the health department, as with the Playboy event.

According to Freije, “Laws in much of Australia and Europe require building owners to maintain water systems to minimize Legionella bacteria but prevention is not mandated in the United States. I have received emails from many Legionnaires’ survivors who were outraged to find out they suffered from a disease that is preventable.”

Steve Sederstrom is one of the Legionnaires’ survivors who tells his story in Freije’s book. “My experience with Legionnaires’ disease was the worst thing I have ever been through. After five months I still have a major problem with short-term memory. I forget where I am going, or forget people’s names even though I have known them for years. I am afraid that I will never get my memory back.”