Six Legionnaires’ disease cases in Chaves County, Two of whom did not survive.

Fred Pritzker Law Firm
Attorney Fred Pritzker

Our law firm is investigating a cluster of Legionnaires’ disease cases. NMDOH has identified six patients from Chaves County with confirmed Legionnaires’ disease since the first week of October 2016. Legionnaires’ disease lawyer Fred Pritzker and his Bad Bug Law Team® are currently representing several people who contracted Legionnaires’ disease in Hopkins, MN.

Two of the six cases, a 69-year-old woman and a 65-year-old woman, died.

Because the patients all live in the same area and their illnesses have occurred during the same time frame there is concern that a common exposure or source of infection may exist. The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is working to determine the source of the infections with the support of Eastern New Mexico Medical Center.

“Patients, their families  and the community need answers,” said Fred Pritzker. “Legionnaires’ is a severe form of pneumonia that is caused by breathing in water mist containing Legionella bacteria. Until the Legionella bacteria source is found, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are at risk.”

According to NMDOH, all 6 patients had other health issues that increased the risk of infection.  “Patients and families need to seek legal help with these cases because, when the source is found, the responsible business may claim that it does not have to pay the survivors and families with wrongful death claims because of the underlying health problems,” said Fred.

Finding the source is always a combination of interviews with patients and their families, environmental testing and DNA analysis of Legionella bacteria recovered from patients and from the environment.

Legionella in the Lungs
Legionnella bacteria found in pneumonia patient.

Legionnaires’ Disease Caused by Water System Maintenance Deficiencies

A new study by the CDC found that preventable water system maintenance deficiencies were the primary cause of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in the United States. The most frequent deficiencies associated with outbreaks involved in the study were as follows:

  • process failures;
  • human errors;
  • equipment failures;
  • unmanaged external changes;
  • inadequate water disinfectanat levels; and
  • water temperatures in the optimal range for Legionella growth.

As soon as the source of the Legionella contamination in this outbreak in New Mexico is found, the investigation can focus on how it happened.