How Attitudes Change: Remember Legionnaires’ Disease?


I recently cited one of Fascinating Horror’s videos (the Harrington Event, about solar flares).  Another appeared this week about the Legionnaires’ Disease epidemic.  Here’s the US CDCs writeup on the disease.

Ex-US military were holding events at the Bellvue Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in July 1976, some sort of bicentennial event.  Unbeknownst to everyone there, the hotel’s air conditioning system was spreading a then unknown bacterium, legionella.  It caused a form of pneumonia which can have mild symptoms or be fatal if untreated, and can be spread.

When the hotel was identified as the source (affecting staff, guests and even passersby who didn’t enter the hotel), what was the response of those had been in the military?  To say “my body, my choice!”, to claim “legionnaires doesn’t exist!” and refuse to cooperate with doctors?

No.  They cooperated, gave samples, isolated or hospitalized themselves to prevent the spread of the disease.  Read PBS’s history of Legionnaires’ Disease and how it was identified, how people cooperated in the investigation.  Too bad those today (US military and cops) don’t share the same sense of responsibility to society when it comes to COVID-19.

More below the fold.

Another recent Fascinating Horror video was about David Hahn, “The Nuclear Boy Scout”.  Hahn was a prospective “eagle scout”, a very bright but not well guided teen who was fascinated with chemistry.  He actually built a nuclear reactor and acquired material from smoke detectors to power it – enough that his part of his home was deemed hazardous and destroyed.

Unsurprisingly, like most obsessed with something dangerous, Hahn’s life came to a short sad end.

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