The Allegheny County Health Department is strongly encouraging retirement and other group homes that look after the elderly to be vigilant about monitoring Legionella in their potable water supplies to prevent cases of potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease.
On October 23, county health officials released approximately 70 pages of guidelines specific to preventing the propagation of the bacteria and diagnosis of the disease in care homes and hospitals.
Allegheny County has been no stranger to Legionnaires’ disease in recent years such as the outbreak in the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System in which six of 22 patients infected with the bacteria died as a result of their illnesses.
Those of advanced age are known to be a highly susceptible group for Legionnaires’ disease. Although hospitals are “very, very proactive at this point in being aware of Legionella,” nursing homes and similar facilities might overlook the threat said Sharon Silvestri, the infectious diseases program chief at the health department.
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