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Could your drinking water be making you sick?

In a recently published report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a two-year study (from 2013 to 2014) on the drinking water in 19 U.S. states—including Maryland. The results of the study identified 42 outbreaks of waterborne diseases in drinking water, from which at least 1,006 people became ill, 124 were hospitalized and 13 died.

The most severe disease identified in the study was Legionnaires’ Disease, which accounted for over half of the outbreaks, 88 percent of the hospitalizations and all of the deaths. In Maryland, the CDC found five outbreaks of waterborne disease during this period—four of Legionnaires’ Disease and one of Nitrite.

Legionnaires’ Disease is a serious, potentially fatal form of pneumonia. While mainly an infection of the lungs, infection can also spread in wounds and other organs on the body, including the heart. The disease can also cause life-threatening complications, including:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Septic shock
  • Acute kidney failure

Survivors often experience long-term effects that include:

  • Neurologic problems (e.g., malaise, concentration issues)
  • Neuromuscular problems (e.g., muscle weakness, joint pain)
  • Respiratory problems (e.g., shortness of breath)

The CDC report stated that 75 percent of all illnesses discovered in the study were tied to community water systems. It is the government’s responsibility to regulate these systems, and negligence to fulfill this duty is a serious matter.

You have the right to clean and safe drinking water. If you believe you have suffered health problems connected to your water system, it’s worth understanding your options for recourse and getting the compensation you deserve.

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