In light of the recent rise in Legionella infections in the U.S., health and science researchers call for stronger policies to help protect people from Legionnaires’ disease. Scientists say that stronger policies and regulations can help prevent Legionella bacteria from contaminating public water systems.
According to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, reported incidences of Legionnaires’ disease increased more than fivefold from 2000-2017. The report attributes the increase to the following factors:
- A higher population of people with health vulnerabilities (including the elderly and those with compromised immune systems)
- More people living in cities with aging and centralized water systems that include cooling towers
- New and easier ways to test for Legionnaires’ disease
The report says that the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) does not provide adequate control of Legionella in public water systems. While the SDWA requires public water supplies to be treated with disinfectants to kill microbes (thin layers that coat wet surfaces and enable Legionella bacteria to grow), the disinfectant may not extend downstream into public water systems. This leaves public buildings vulnerable to Legionella growth.
In the report, researchers call for the following actions to help prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria:
- Hot-water temperatures should be maintained above 140°F in all types of buildings
- Hot-water temperature to distal points (the point of connection to a fixture that blends hot and cold water before reaching the tap) should exceed 131°F in all types of buildings
- Guidance for homeowners to help limit Legionella growth in home hot-water systems
- A required water management plan in all public buildings
- Low-flow fixtures should not be allowed in hospitals and care facilities due to high-risk populations
- Modify criteria for certifying green buildings and energy and water conservation features to account for risk factors for Legionella growth
- Cooling towers should be registered and monitored
- A minimum disinfectant level should be required and monitored throughout public water systems
Ongoing Legionnaires’ Disease Investigations
Sheraton Atlanta Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak
The Sheraton Atlanta Legionnaires’ disease outbreak includes 12 confirmed cases, 1 fatality, and at least 63 probable cases. Health officials confirmed that test results found Legionella bacteria in the hotel’s cooling tower and in a decorative atrium fountain.
Roadway Inn Legionella Outbreak in Tomahawk, WI
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Rodeway Inn and Suites in Tomahawk, WI sickened two people. The Lincoln County Health Department issued Rodeway a conditional permit to re-open after the hotel met interim requirements to eliminate Legionella bacteria from its water system. The interim requirements include installing filters on faucets and showerheads and closing the pool and whirlpool.
AmericInn Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Schaumberg, IL
There are two confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the AmericInn in Schaumberg, IL. Both guests reported using the hot tub and pool during their stays at the hotel in July and August. The hotel has closed these areas while the Illinois Department of Public Health investigates.
Apple Rehab Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in Rocky Hill, CT
A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at Apple Rehab Inc. in Rocky Hill, CT has sickened two people, killing one. The facility’s water system was treated after samples tested positive for Legionella bacteria. Further testing is being conducted.
Experienced Legionnaires’ Disease Lawyers
Our award-winning Legionnaires’ disease lawyers help people sickened by Legionella infections nationwide. If your family suffered the death of a loved one, you may be able to sue for wrongful death. Our legal team obtained a significant recovery for the family of a woman who died after inhaling Legionella bacteria while celebrating her 40th wedding anniversary with her husband at a hotel in Las Vegas. For a free legal consultation, fill out the form below, call 1-888-377-8900, or text 612-261-0856.