What is Legionnaire’s disease?

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Several cases of Legionnaire’s disease were found in Baltimore, Maryland in November of 2011. According to the Howard County health officials, a man residing at a Senior Living Facility in Ellicot City contracted the disease. Regrettably, the man died from the illness. Two more cases were reported at a Multi-Center in North Baltimore. Those individuals were able to overcome the illness and return to their communities. Legionnaire’s disease is one of the forms of pneumonia. In 2010, 113 people in Maryland were diagnosed with the disease.

There are several ways that an individual can contract Legionnaires’ disease. One way is if an individual inhales airborne water droplets that contain legionellae. Some of the investigators believe the disease can also be acquired by drinking water that is contaminated with legionellae, especially if legionellae infected water is inhaled prior to it entering the stomach. There is also the possibility of contracting the disease by contact between skin wounds or incisions and the contaminated water. However, the disease is not spread person-to-person therefore; it is not considered contagious.

Persons at Risk

Two key factors determine an individual’s level of risk.

  1. The amount of the bacteria that the individual inhales or his wounds come into contact with.
  2. How well his body can resist becoming infected.

Maryland’s healthy and young individuals can get Legionnaires’ disease; however, individuals who have an immunocompromised condition are at greater risk of contracting the disease. One’s body can become immunocompromised for various reasons. Some of these reasons are listed below.

  1. Persons infected with the HIV virus are 40 times more likely to contract the disease.
  2. People who have previously received an organ transplant are 200 times more likely to contract Legionnaires’ disease.
  3. Individuals who have cancer have a higher risk.
  4. Persons undergoing medical treatments that could cause their immune system to become depressed (i.e. chemotherapy).
  5. People, who smoke, drink heavily or are 65 years or older have a somewhat higher risk of contracting the disease.

Although some children have contracted the disease, the majority of cases occurred in immunosuppressed individuals. Some immunocompetent children contracted the disease. Newborns, in particular, have acquired this disease, generally following surgical procedures or by using ventilators contaminated with the legionellae bacteria.

Contact our Maryland law firm today for your free consultation to see if Legionnaires’ disease affected you.

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