Are nursing home residents at risk for Legionnaire's disease?

If you have a loved one living in an Alabama nursing home or long-term care facility, you should know about a growing and potentially deadly problem affecting residents at many such facilities throughout the United States. Legionnaire's disease can arise when people breathe in small droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria, which can cause serious lung infections that often result in pneumonia.

Per WSFA, about 80 percent of Legionnaire's disease cases develop in continuing care facilities, and about 10 percent of those affected by the disease ultimately die from it. The fatality risk is significantly higher for those who develop the disease while living in a nursing home or continuing care facility, with about 25 percent of those affected dying as a result of the bacteria. Just how severe your loved one's risk of developing Legionnaire's disease is depends on a variety of factors, among them his or her state of health and whether the water system in the residential home is improperly sterilized, sanitized and maintained.

For example, your loved one is far more likely to develop Legionnaire’s disease if he or she is over the age of 50, already in poor health and a smoker. Having a weakened immune system or a chronic disease, too, increases your friend or family member’s chances of developing the disease. Furthermore, the bacteria experiences rapid, considerable growth in buildings that have water systems that are too warm or lacking proper disinfectants, or in water systems where the water is stagnant or otherwise mismanaged.

If affected, your loved one’s medical expenditures may top, on average, $38,000. In a recent one-year period, insurance companies paid more than $434 million in Legionnaire’s disease-related claims.

This information about the prevalence of Legionnaire’s disease seeks to inform you, but it is not a replacement for legal advice.  

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