Shoppers heading to Walmart and other stores for groceries or everyday items could return home with Legionnaires’ disease. Produce water sprays, public fountains, plumbing systems, and cooling towers are prime breeding grounds for the Legionella bacteria that causes the disease. When people contract the disease after exposure in a Nevada store, they may be able to hold the company and other entities liable.
What Is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a strain of pneumonia spread through water droplets that harbor the Legionella bacteria. In a grocery store setting, the most likely way the disease is spread is through the water sprays in the produce department. The disease often pops up in other man-made water systems, especially those in public facilities like hotels, hospitals, and stores. Hot tubs and hot water tanks can also harbor the disease. Other outbreaks with multiple cases in recent years have implicated hospitals, nursing homes, and resorts.
Most people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will start exhibiting symptoms two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms include most of the traditional symptoms of pneumonia, like coughing, fever, shortness of breath, weakness, and confusion. People with Legionnaires’ disease may also experience nausea and diarrhea. Headaches and muscle aches are common. About one in every 10 cases of this disease leads to death, and those who are age 50 and older, who used to smoke, or who suffer from immune system weakness are at higher risk. Those experiencing symptoms need to seek medical treatment as quickly as possible to avoid complications. Legionnaires’ disease is also commonly called Pontiac fever.
Stores Face Repercussions When People Get Sick
Stores have a legal an ethical obligation to keep their premises as safe as possible for shoppers. Last year, when a Walmart in Illinois was named as a potential source for an outbreak, the store began taking measures to reduce exposure to Legionella bacteria, specifically through changing the produce water spraying system to reduce the risk. Even when a store takes steps to reduce exposure after a hazard is discovered, however, victims who are infected with the bacteria may be able to recover compensation. A premises liability lawyer can assist with this process.