Legionella, a disease that has found itself in our local news headlines over the past two weeks is a strand of pneumonia that largely comes from large distribution systems found in hospitals, hotels, and other large faculties. Other sources include humidifiers, mist machines, whirlpool spas, and hot springs. When the disease is not treated in time, this disease can lead to hospitalization and/or death in people who have a weakened immune system.
In the Buffalo news there are two stories of where Legionella was found in our community. One at an office of the Buffalo Public Schools at 333 Clinton Street in Buffalo. Where a routine check discovered that the water in the building tested positive for Legionella. Since the statement has come out stating that for this result to make an impact, the water needs to test positive three times. Stating that it only tested positive once, and that the water is at an acceptable safe level to drink. What many people struggle to understand is that when they say, “safe level”, we need to investigate these things. Chemicals, metals, and bacteria are all containments that can be found in our drinking water. These are substances that cannot be broken down naturally by our body because they are not organic substances that are body is used to breaking down. Rather these substances are stored in the body in different types of cells found throughout the body. The more and more these substances build up in our body, the more and more cells storing these contaminants grow around each other. Eventually creating a tumor, which can eventually lead to cancer. Now I’m not saying that the bacteria legionella will turn into cancer, but if a place has tested positive for legionella, and you work there, and the company does nothing to treat their water, and says the water is safe to drink, more than likely you will get legionella.
In the second report that came out last week from the Buffalo news, an individual contracted legionella from an air conditioner in 2016 from Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport NY. The individual later died and the family is suing the hospital for the cause of death. Legionella is not a contagious disease but can be transferred through water vapors in the air that contain the disease. Although the individual was the only fatally in the area, there were more than a dozen people in the area who also contracted the disease. Legionella when it is in a cooling tower connected to air conditioners can travel airborne within mist for half a mile. So local communities around the hospital were victims of disease due to their proximity near the hospital, never actually stepping foot inside. Those that are the most susceptible are individuals age 50 and older, current or previous smokers, people who have chronic lung disease, or those with a weakened immune system. Unfortunately, our local community member who passed away had a weakened immune system due a battle with cancer, but cancer was not the result of his death. Our individual lived near the hospital, and in the summer months when he did not have an air conditioner he left his windows open at night to cool off his property. With the water vapors containing legionella coming into the house, this is how not only our fatal case, but also his neighbors around him contracted legionella. Since a major outbreak in the Bronx in 2015 revolving around cooling towers and legionella, the state has issued 90-day testing on all cooling towers to help reduce contraception. Although legionella can be found in our natural environment. It harbors in luke warm, and moist places such as industrial strength air systems. In 2017 another individual passed away from legionella, but he did not live near the hospital.