Hot Tub Infections A Hot Topic


Maybe you’re one of those folks who have tickets to board a cruise ship in Baltimore to escape the chilly days of winter in the Northeast. We couldn’t blame you for wanting to sail to a hotter climate, but if you spend part of that cruise sitting in a hot tub, you may come back with more than cheap souvenirs. The concern about health problems arising from the use of cruise ship hot tubs is nothing new. Back in 1994, a Legionnaires Disease outbreak aboard a Celebrity Cruise ship killed one passenger and sickened 50 others. Legionella bacteria was found in a filter that recirculated water for the ship’s three spas. More recently, on October 24, 2014, a Maryland man filed a complaint in federal court in Miami alleging that he developed a serious skin infection after using the hot tub on a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean last November. Charles Atwell alleges bacteria in the hot tub were responsible for a large and painful abscess which had to be surgically treated and drained. The suit alleges a pattern of bacterial infection in Carnival hot tubs and negligence on the part of the cruise company. The Carnival cruise line also[…..]

Legionnaires’ Disease Strikes Again In Baltimore

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As reported by The Baltimore Sun on September 2, 2014, another resident of a Baltimore apartment community has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The latest victim lived in the Hanover Square Apartments in Otterbein, a 200-unit subsidized housing development for seniors. Hanover Square is owned by The National Foundation for Affordable Housing Solutions Inc. and managed by Edgewood Management, which also manages the Apostolic Towers in East Baltimore, where two cases of the disease were reported earlier this year. While the condition of the latest victim is unknown, both individuals infected at Apostolic Towers required hospitalization. Legionellosis, or Legionnaires’ disease, is a form of pneumonia caused by a bacteria commonly found in water, usually at low or undetectable levels. Under certain conditions, the bacteria multiply and cause disease by being inhaled in water particles. The first outbreak of legionellosis, back in 1976, was traced to a cooling tower in the air-conditioning system at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia during an American Legion convention. That crisis resulted in 221 cases of pneumonia and the death of 34 Legionnaires, thereby giving this infection its name. Other outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease have been traced to indoor spas and pools, humidifiers, ventilation and cooling[…..]

CDC Reports Increase in Legionnaires’ Disease Cases

Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially life-threatening pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, has seen an alarming increase in the past decade, according to a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to, the CDC’s report shows that cases involving Legionnaires’ disease have tripled in the last 10 years, with major unexplained increases in New England in 2011. Other states with startling flare-ups include Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, all with double the amount of cases from last year, and there have also been sharp increases in northeastern states as well. An advisory was issued to all state healthcare providers to look out for any patients who have Legionnaires’ disease or may be experiencing symptoms of the disease, and to report any of these cases. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the inhaling of an infectious dose of Legionella bacteria, which is often found in contaminated water sources such as whirlpool spas, showers, faucets, and cooling towers. The symptoms of this disease are similar to the flu which can make it hard to diagnose initially, but can include: Cough; Chills; High fever; Muscle aches; and Headaches. Legionnaires’ symptoms usually begin within 2 to 14 days of being exposed[…..]

MMWR Releases 10-Year Nationwide Legionellosis Case Assessment

Legionnaires’ disease (LD), a serious and potentially deadly form of pneumonia, and Pontiac fever (PF), a flu-like self-limited sickness, are the most common forms of legionellosis, although LD is much more common. Both are caused by the Legionella bacteria. In the study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), legionellosis cases across the nation were assessed from 2000 through 2009. Data was compiled by the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) and the Supplemental Legionnaires Disease Surveillance System (SLDSS). Some of the findings presented include the following: There were 22,418 reported cases of legionellosis from 2000 through 2009; Legionellosis cases in the U.S. increased 217 percent, from 1,110 cases in 2000 to 3,522 in 2009; 99.5 percent of all legionellosis cases were classified as LD, and only 0.5 percent as PF; 16,595 of reported legionelliosis cases involved people 50-years-old and older; Legionellosis incidence rates increased 8 percent for children aged 9 years and younger and 287 percent for seniors aged 80 years and older; and 1,220 cases involving U.S. residents were travel-related, 81 percent domestic travel and 5 percent cruise ship travel. Legionnaires’ disease is caused by breathing in air, mist[…..]

Las Vegas Guests Exposed to Legionella Bacteria at Aria CityCenter Resort

Reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease among guests who recently stayed at Las Vegas CityCenter’s Aria resort have prompted MGM Resorts International to warn other guests of possible exposure to the Legionella bacteria, according to Fox 5 News. The Southern Nevada Health District confirms that water samples tested positive for active Legionella bacteria between June 21 and July 4. Guests who stayed at the ARIA resort during that period are being contacted by resort authorities. The bacteria levels, found in the hot water system, were highlighted after several Aria guests were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. The Aria has a comprehensive water management program and active Legionella bacteria have not been detected in more recent tests, according to The Las Vegas Sun. The source of this infection and illness transmission was determined to have occurred at the resort property. Guests who contracted Legionnaires’ disease at the Aria have recovered. Although, in this instance, those with Legionnaires’ disease have made a full recovery, it is not always the case. It is a life-threatening form of pneumonia caused by infection from the Legionella bacteria. Symptoms include headache, chills, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, confusion, and loss of appetite. Though it may be fully[…..]

Legionella Bacteria Confirmed at Playboy Mansion as Cause of Guests’ Illnesses

Los Angeles County Public Health Officials have confirmed the presence of Legionella bacteria at the Playboy Mansion, also known as Hugh Hefner’s Holmby Hills estate. According to The Daily Mail Reporter, over 700 guests were at a party on February 3. Two days later, tons of guests complained of the same symptoms, some of which included fever, intense headaches, and respiratory problems. Those in charge of the conference that held the party at the Playboy Mansion noticed a trend and an official investigation was launched. The article reports that four Swedish men who were at the Playboy Mansion were diagnosed with Legionellosis or pontiac fever, which is a milder form of Legionnaries’ disease caused by bacteria found in warm air-conditioning units. Legionella is frequently found in moist environments, and an atmospheric fog machine was used at the party. The LA County’s Director of Public Health has not dismissed the possibility that other illnesses may have contributed to the hundreds of people who became ill. While there are tests and treatments for Legionnaires’ disease, a person who has contracted the illness can suffer potentially long-term effects such as confusion, short and/or long term memory loss, fatigue, and the onset of asthma.[…..]

Signs of Legionella Found in New York Nursing Home's Water Supply

St. Luke’s Home, a New-York based nursing home, recently discovered traces of Legionella bacteria in its water systems, according to NBC news affiliate WKTV. The bacteria are known for causing Legionnaires’ disease, a lung disease that can result in death. St. Luke’s Home regularly tests its water supply for Legionella and other dangerous microorganisms. In mid-January, St. Luke’s found traces of Legionella in certain limited places in the nursing home’s water delivery systems. The home notified the New York Department of Public Health, which decided to limit the use of the nursing home’s water systems until filters could be installed. St. Luke’s expected to have the filters in place by the end of January. Legionella bacteria thrive in enclosed systems that contain warm water, such as those found in nursing homes, hospitals, and similar institutions. The bacteria enter a person’s body when contaminated water is drunk or water vapor is inhaled. The disease cannot be transmitted between people directly. Most people exposed to Legionella do not become ill, but Legionnaires’ disease can have serious consequences for those with weakened immune systems, including the elderly, children, and those with autoimmune disease. People who become ill from Legionnaires’ disease have certain legal[…..]

What Tests and Treatments Are Available for Legionnaires' Disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a lung condition caused by the Legionella bacteria. It is also known as Legionella pneumonia because it can cause similar symptoms to regular pneumonia. Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease infect the elderly, who are particularly susceptible to severe damage or even death. A doctor or health care provider checking a patient for Legionnaires’ disease will likely begin with a physical exam, which includes listening to the lungs with a stethoscope. If a doctor suspects a person has contacted Legionnaires’ disease, they may order a number of tests, including: A check of the gases in the blood, which helps determine if a patient’s lungs are transmitting enough oxygen. A chest x-ray. A complete blood count (CBC), which looks at the cells in the blood. A urine test to check for Legionella bacteria. Cultures to find Legionella bacteria or the body’s antibodies against it. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, another blood test. Liver function tests. If testing reveals a person has Legionnaires’ disease, several treatment options are available. Antibiotics are frequently used to kill the bacteria. A patient may also be given fluids or electrolytes if the disease has dehydrated them, as well as oxygen to help them breathe. A physician[…..]

Lehigh University Former Cook Contracts Legionnaires’ Disease, Files Lawsuit

A lawsuit has been filed against Lehigh University by a former male cook who claims that the school is responsible for him contracting Legionnaires’ disease during the summer of 2009. According to an Express-Times article, the lawsuit alleges that the HVAC system at the University Center where the man worked as a cook housed the disease, causing him to be exposed to exhaust vapor, condensation, or other HVAC byproducts. Moreover, the man is unable to work due to his poor health and other complications. The article states that the man was hospitalized for almost a month, spending a significant amount of time in the intensive care unit because of respiratory failure. The lawsuit is seeking compensation to help offset future medical bills, lost wages, as well as other damages brought on by complications associated with the disease. Legionnaires’ disease is considered to be a form of pneumonia, but does not spread from person to person. Bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease lives in water and is sometimes discovered in HVAC and plumbing systems found at hospitals, nursing homes, and other large facilities. Individuals most susceptible to the disease are those with weakened respiratory or immune systems. Nevertheless, no matter what a[…..]

Waterborne Diseases Like Legionnaires' Cost $539 Million a Year

Legionnaires’ disease, cryptosporidiosis, and giardiasis take a significant health toll on the thousands of U.S. citizens sickened by them each year. They also cost the U.S. health care system about $539 million per year, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was recently reported by Reuters. Although the three diseases produce different symptoms, all three are transmitted by water. Patients catch Legionnaires’ disease and similar diseases either by drinking bacteria-contaminated water or by breathing droplets of that water suspended in humid air, like that found in showers and saunas. Legionnaires’ disease in particular thrives in warm water that is continuously recycled, making places like hospitals, nursing homes, and health clubs especially vulnerable to transmitting the waterborne disease. In its early stages, Legionnaires’ disease often resembles pneumonia, but its effects are more dangerous. The disease can kill up to 30 percent of the people who contract it. The CDC estimates that around 18,000 Americans are sent to the hospital each year with Legionnaires’ disease, with an approximate cost of $34,000 per patient. Those who are treated early for the condition have the best chance of making a full recovery. Legionnaires’ disease can be treated with[…..]