CDC Reports a Higher Number of Legionellosis Cases than Originally Stated

Earlier in 2019, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported on the number of Legionellosis cases in the United States in the prior year. That number hit a record high of 8,356 cases, a major uptick from previous years’ reporting. Now, the CDC is revising that number to be closer to 10,000 (9,933) in 2018, representing an 18.8-percent increase. The majority of those newly found cases included Legionnaires’ disease, which affects the body’s central nervous system.

Caused by a waterborne pathogen known as legionella, Legionnaires’ disease is contracted when vulnerable individuals inhale water or mist containing elevated levels of the bacteria. At a state fair in North Carolina in September 2019, more than 100 people were affected by an outbreak in a hot tub, which eventually led to the deaths of four individuals. In cases like this, not only is the CDC contacted for review but those responsible at the state fair to take care of the water are.

In general, companies or organizations involved in accidental death or injury instances are hit with major lawsuits. Having Legionella insurance can provide the financial protection needed to be properly represented and pay out whatever fines are given and settlements are agreed upon. From doctor bills to hospital stays to paying for funeral services, companies or those responsible for an outbreak can see a potential for millions of dollars to be flushed out.

On The Rise

The number of cases reported by the CDC has seen an increase year-over-year since 2000. In fact, the United States saw a 286 percent increase between 2000 and 2014, and this figure only continued to rise heading into the second half of the last decade.

In August of last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) published a report stating that the real number of those affected is actually around 70,000 annually as the majority of people are only mildly affected. These rising numbers have alarmed not only the CDC but the World Health Organization as well as local governments.

What’s Next?

Even if facilities react to an outbreak by having the right water management in place, Legionella bacteria can still live on in a water system and grow. But this shouldn’t discourage local jurisdictions and companies from having water management plans in place or prevent them from purchasing Legionella insurance to help protect their operations moving forward.

Remediation costs that come after an outbreak remain high and combined with bad press and negative attention could lead to building shutdowns and major lawsuits and claims. It’s important for companies to patch up instances where they are at fault but make sure to protect people in the future with effective water management plans and Legionella insurance programs.

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