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As a
Legionnaire’s Disease lawyer, I watch the news for signs of Legionnaire’s Disease outbreaks. Recently
I have been reading about a large number of Legionnaire’s Disease
cases in people who had stayed at the Plim Plaza Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland.

Three people were hospitalized with Legionnaire’s Disease about a
week after they had stayed at the
Plim Plaza Hotel in Ocean City, Maryland.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) investigated,
along with the Worcester County Health Department. They found legionella
bacteria in “several locations” in the hotel. The Health Department
did not specify which locations, but Legionnaire’s Disease is spread
through the air – not through person-to-person contact – which
means it often is spread in water droplets in the air around uncleaned
and untreated pools and spas, or through uncleaned air conditioning units.

During its investigation, DHMH found another three cases of Legionnaire’s
Disease. They discovered that one elderly visitor from another state had
died of Legionnaire’s Disease. (Legionnaire’s Disease is much
more likely to strike and to be serious for elderly people and people
with compromised immune systems).

The hotel shut down for the season a week early, and people staying at
the hotel were transferred to new hotels.

If you stayed at the Plim Plaza Hotel in September 2011, and you are experiencing
pneumonia-like symptoms, the Health Department is urging you to seek medical help.

Legionnaire’s Disease is often called a “traveler’s illness”
because it can affect travelers. People are exposed to the legionella
bacteria in a group setting – such as a hotel’s or cruise
ship’s hot tub or spa, or air conditioning system – and then
they disperse to their various states. Since they have dispersed, doctors
often do not detect an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease. People
may go undiagnosed – with disastrous consequences.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has set up a mandatory reporting
system for cases of Legionnaire’s Disease, but it is far from perfectly
followed. Here, although the Maryland Health Department has confirmed
six cases of Legionnaire’s Disease, it is very likely that several
other people contracted the illness at the Plim Plaza Hotel. Their doctors
may not have detected the disease yet, or they may not have reported it
to the CDC. It is also very, very likely that a number of people contracted
Pontiac Fever, which is a lesser form of Legionnaire’s Disease.
My Pontiac Fever clients tell me it feels like “the worst flu you
ever had,” and generally it is compounded by breathing difficulties.
My clients who have contracted full-fledged Legionnaire’s Disease
have full pneumonia-type symptoms.

The Plim Plaza Hotel has 181 rooms. It is owned by the Harison Group, which
also owns 9 other hotels.

Legionnaire’s Disease was first identified in 1976, when a group
of people attending the American Legion Convention in Philadelphia were
all stricken by a mysterious illness. The illness was traced to bacteria
in the hotel’s air conditioning system.

With proper hygiene and chemicals in pools and spas, and with proper cleaning
of air conditioning systems, Legionnaire’s Disease is entirely preventable.

As a Legionnaire’s Disease attorney, Lee Wallace represented six
people who contracted Legionnaire’s Disease or Pontiac Fever at
a Georgia hotel in 2001. The hotel had not maintained its spa whirlpool
with proper chemicals, which had allowed legionella bacteria to breed
in the hot tub.


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.