Record number of Legionnaires’ cases in 2018 risk lives, cause cleanup headaches

A new article by News Medical Life Sciences has emerged discussing how a record number of Legionnaires cases in 2018 in the US has caused issues for the past year with companies and compliance businesses alike.

“Cases of Legionnaires’ disease reached a record high in 2018 — a more than eight-fold increase since the numbers began to climb nearly two decades ago.” states the article.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday 9,933 cases in 2018 of Legionellosis, which includes both Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever. Legionnaires’ disease made up the vast majority of cases, according to the CDC.

And the problem may be exponentially larger than what’s reported to public health officials. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine estimates that as many as 70,000 people may suffer from the disease each year, according to a report released in August.

Hot tubs, hotels and hospitals across the U.S. continue to be hotbeds for the potentially deadly disease, which people contract after inhaling mist or water droplets contaminated with Legionella bacteria. It causes severe pneumonia-like symptoms and kills 10% of those sickened. Nearly one quarter die if they contract the disease in a health-care setting.

But fighting the problem is an expensive undertaking. The annual cost of treating Legionnaires’ disease, based on hospitalisation claims, was $434 million in 2012. It has likely grown with the uptick in cases. Flushing out water systems or even redoing them to get rid of the bacteria costs far more. California alone has spent $8.5 million this year cleaning up an outbreak at a Stockton prison that killed one inmate.

The fear of that kind of financial hit leads building managers to resist testing or actively looking for Legionella, said Laura Ehlers, who directed the study for the National Academies.

And even when facilities have water management plans in place to prevent the bacteria, it still is still showing up.

A key question for facilities is how much to proactively guard against the bacteria so they don’t end up footing millions of dollars in bills if Legionella is found.

This is a very interesting article to read linking to the recent North Carolina outbreak as it questions the entire stature of the US water management system in place.

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