Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Quebec City

MONTREAL — The regional director of the public health department was categoric in her condemnation in the wake of last summer’s explosion of Legionnaires’ disease in Quebec City.

“There were insufficient practices in place,” said François Desbiens, of the epidemic that saw 181 people fall sick and 13 die of the bacteria found in the cooling towers of buildings in the provincial capital.

The provincial health department got involved in examining the cause of the deadly respiratory disease that comes from bacteria that thrive in aquatic environments.

A report of their findings was made public on Thursday.

Cooling towers, containing water used in building air-conditioning systems, were found to be the source of the bacteria in Quebec City.

The bacteria was found in 24 per cent of the buildings visited by health inspectors after the outbreak was first declared.

In the report, Desbiens calls for more stringent maintenance protocols and cleaning and disinfecting procedures, as well as better official surveillance of these practices.

Original article at: montrealgazette.com

CHP Investigates a Legionnaires’ Disease Case

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today (December 21) investigating a case of Legionnaires’ Disease involving a 67-year-old man.

The patient, with underlying illnesses, presented with fever, cough, shortness of breath and malaise since December 16. He was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital on December 18 and was transferred to Intensive Care Unit the next day. He is in stable condition now.

Test on his nasopharyngeal aspirate specimen revealed that the patient was infected with Legionella bacteria.

He had travelled to the Mainland between December 10 and 11. His close contacts were asymptomatic. Investigation is in progress.

Information on Legionnaires’ Disease and advice on prevention can be found at the CHP’s website, www.chp.gov.hk.

Original article at: flutrackers.com

Second Pa. care home hit by Legionnaires’ disease

TURTLE CREEK, Pa. (AP) — Health officials now say at least 10 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been discovered at a pair of care facilities in western Pennsylvania.

The Allegheny County Health Department said Wednesday at least two people have been sickened at the Hamilton Hills Personal Care Facility in Turtle Creek. That’s in addition to eight cases at the nearby LGAR Health & Rehabilitation Center.

No fatalities have been reported related to the outbreak but three people had to be hospitalized with pneumonia-like symptoms. Health officials say they’re treating the water supplies at both facilities, although the cause of the outbreak remains unknown.

The health department said previously the bacteria can sometimes occur when facilities install systems that prevent hot water from scalding people.

Original article at: FortWayne.com

8 guests sue Las Vegas resort in Legionnaires case

LAS VEGAS — Eight former hotel guests are suing a Las Vegas Strip resort and its builders, seeking $337.5 million in damages and alleging they were exposed to Legionnaires’ disease during stays there earlier this year.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs said Wednesday the huge amount sought in compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of a handful of guests at the posh Aria Resort & Casino stems from negligence by resort owners MGM Resorts International and Dubai World, and the builders of the massive CityCenter complex. No hearing date was immediately set.

“What we’re looking at is the management of the water plan,” attorney Sam Mirkovich told The Associated Press. “There were multiple instances of the Legionella bacteria in the water system.”

MGM Resorts executive spokesman Alan Feldman denied negligence. The 266-page lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun (http://bit.ly/plJUBY) and Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/mW0oyD). It involves three couples and two individuals from Arizona, California, Minnesota, Texas and Canada.

“While it is our policy to not comment on litigation, we have been very careful to communicate with each of our guests and reimburse them fairly for any legitimate medical expenses,” Feldman said. “We intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”

Six of the plaintiffs allege they were treated for Legionnaires’ disease. The potentially fatal respiratory ailment got its name after more than 200 people were sickened and 34 died in 1976 after a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion. Health investigators said the bacteria apparently spread through the convention hotel air conditioning system.

The Las Vegas-based Southern Nevada Health District reported in July that six former Aria guests recovered after treatment for the disease. MGM Resorts notified guests they may have been exposed between June 21 and July 4.

Mirkovich said plaintiffs in the lawsuit weren’t the same people reported by health officials to have been treated.

The 225-count complaint alleges guests were exposed to the disease in water vapor and steam when they used showers and faucets.

The glassy multistory Aria hotel, with nearly 4,000 rooms, opened in December 2009 as a key component of the $8.5 billion CityCenter resort complex.

The lawsuit was filed the same day Clark County officials asked MGM and Dubai World for more information about a proposal to implode a defective separate 26-story hotel that never opened. That property, called the Harmon hotel and condo tower, has been called a public safety risk.

Original article at: macon.com

Richmond Health Center Employee Dies of Legionnaires’ Disease

Experts are testing the water system at the Richmond Health Center after an employee there died of Legionnaires’ disease.

The center remains open and no other cases of the disease have been identified, said William Walker, director of Contra Costa Health Services.

Test results are expected this week.

Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia-like infection that is spread when people breathe in water mist contaminated with Legionella bacteria.

The bacteria, which occur naturally in the environment, live in water and can sometimes be found in hot tubs, air conditioning units in large buildings, decorative fountains, and water systems in cruise ships, hotels and hospitals.

Some people get it from breathing in the steam from a whirlpool spa that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected.
The disease is not contagious.

Contra Costa County typically has three to 10 cases per year. Nationally, 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized annually with the disease.

It may never be known where the medical records technician at the Richmond Health Center came in contact with the bacteria, Walker said.

But in 2008, after another Richmond Health Center employee became ill with Legionnaires’ disease, tests indicated that water in the health center’s cooling tower may have contained the bacteria.

Since then, the county has disinfected the heating and cooling system in the building regularly, Walker said.

The employee who fell ill in 2008 recovered, as do most people who contract the disease, which can be treated with antibiotics. Some people never have symptoms.

But Legionnaires’ can be fatal in 5 to 30 percent of cases, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those who are at greatest risk include smokers, people who have a weakened immune system, those with chronic lung disease, and the elderly.

Legionnaires’ disease can be difficult to diagnose initially because symptoms can be similar to the flu. About two to 10 days after becoming infected, people may develop a fever, chills, cough, muscle aches and headache.

Walker advises anyone with such symptoms to see a doctor.

In the latest round of testing at the Richmond Health Center, Walker said it is likely that some of the water samples will contain the Legionella bacteria because it is commonly found wherever tests occur.

But he stressed that county leaders will take steps to eliminate it and he noted that there have been no other cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the county this year.

“We consider the health center to be safe for both staff and patients,” Walker said.

The health center, which has served West Contra Costa residents since 1967 and sees about 7,000 patients monthly, will soon be replaced by a new, state-of-the-art facility.

On Friday, Rep. George Miller will join county leaders in a groundbreaking ceremony for a $45 million center in San Pablo. The 53,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed by July 2012.

County leaders say the current building, the only one of eight county health centers that has never been replaced, has outlived its usefulness.

From Inside Bay Area