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What you need to know about Legionnaires’ Disease

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2020 | Workplace Illness

If you work in a large office building that has a water system or where your bosses regularly run a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit, then you’ll want to listen up. This equipment could be releasing a harmful bacteria known as Legionella into the water or air making you sick.

This harmful bacteria often builds up in the industrial water lines or HVAC outputs that aren’t serviced as frequently as they should be. Workers most commonly come into contact with Legionella by inhaling fine mists or through the consumption of water droplets.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data shows that some 6,000 workers are diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease each year in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States. Workers who are most susceptible to being exposed to Legionella are those who are immunocompromised or the elderly. The highest number of diagnoses occur during the summer and early fall when individuals are most apt to be exposed to air conditioning.

Legionnaires’ disease is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia because individuals who have these conditions frequently experience similar symptoms. While 10% of those patients who are diagnosed with this condition die, it doesn’t have to be fatal. Workers may recover by taking antibiotics. This disease isn’t contagious.

OSHA recommends for all employers to regularly test their water and HVAC systems for a buildup of this bacteria. The agency highlights how regular equipment maintenance is key to keeping exposure risk levels low. OSHA also has established guidelines that all employers or landlords should follow to contain an outbreak if such an event occurs.

There are a variety of environmental factors that put workers at risk of developing illnesses such as stress and respiratory infections or diseases. If you believe that your medical condition is a result of exposure to the toxin in your work environment in Dauphin, then an attorney can advise you of your right to compensated medical care and more as a result of that.


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