An Illinois House panel approved a bill to require notification within 24 hours of a legionnaires outbreak at any Illinois Veteran’s homes. The bill now goes to the full House for possible amendments.
According to the Herald&Review:
A bill to require notification within one day of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Illinois veterans’ homes was approved by the House’s veterans’ affairs committee on Thursday.
However, this bill will not likely pass in its present form as there a number of interested parties seeking to include other conditions on the bill.
Eric Murphy, legislative liaison for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs said while his department supports the idea behind the bill, it needed to define what an outbreak is. The committee also decided the bill should clarify that a notification should go out when a lab test confirms a case.
This type of notification requirement should be mandatory on all companies or governmental organizations. As has been discussed before, one of the most common problems with an exposure to the legionella bacteria is that the persons at risk may never know about their exposure and the reason for their illness.
Unless an infectious disease doctor properly tests and diagnoses the condition, the victim will never understand the significance of their injury. In fact, many states including Louisiana and Georgia, among others, maintain secrecy and confidentiality to legionnaires investigations.
A recent outbreak at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas did result in a large mailing and emailing campaign by the Rio Hotel to let any of its guests know that there was an outbreak of legionella bacteria.
According to the USA Today back in June of 2017:
Bacteria causing a sometimes deadly type of pneumonia were found in the water system of the famed Las Vegas Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
The Southern Nevada Health District announced Friday two separate guests who stayed at the hotel at different times in March and April contracted Legionnaires’ disease, which is caused by the Legionella bacteria.
The Rio’s letter (see a copy below) went to all guests that stayed at the hotel, alerting them of the outbreak. The letter stated:
Dear Valued Guest,
Recently, the Southern Nevada Health District (“SNHD”) determined that a certain number of people who stayed at Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino (the “Rio”) between March and June 2017 were diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease, which is a type of pneumonia. We do not know for certain whether the Rio’s water systems were the source of the reported cases; however, prior sample test results from this location have indicated the presence of the Legionella bacteria.
The Rio has been working closely with the SNHD under the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate this matter and take aggressive remediation action to ensure the safety of the water. This included multiple disinfection events of the Rio’s water systems between June and September of 2017.
The Legionella bacteria are most commonly found in water sources, which may include the hot water systems of buildings. Based on information from the SNHD’s website provided in the link below, “people get Legionairre’s disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (droplets of water in the air) that has been contaminated with the Legionella bacteria.”
Symptoms usually begin two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. Guests developing pneumonia-like symptoms within 14 days of their stay at the Rio should seek medical attention.
Additionally, if you have any questions or would like more information about Legionnaire’s disease, please contact the SNHD or visit their website at https://www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/health-topics/legionellosis.php. If you have any questions regarding this notices, please contact the Front Desk.
We are very sorry for any inconvenience or concern this situation may cause. But, we can assure you we have and will continue to do all that we can to address the matter.
One of the main reasons that the Rio sent the letter is because of the extremely professional and proactive Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD).
The SNHD routinely conducts investigations even when there is one person exposed. When there is more than one person that is exposed, the SNHD not only investigates, but also notifies the public. Any county or State Health Department would be wise to review and emulate the SNHD protocols and procedures to insure the safety of the public, and to avoid future exposures.