Over the past weekend a suspected Legionnaires’ disease outbreak has been identified in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. Eight people have come down with the potentially fatal form of pneumonia. After receiving reports of the eight people, all in the Cudahy, Wisconsin area, seeking treatment for Legionnaires’ disease, state health officials launched an investigation into the potential outbreak. According to news media, health officials discovered eight individuals had recently stayed at the Aurora Saint Luke’s South Shore Hospital and it has now become the focus of the investigation. Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in hospitals are not an uncommon occurrence. Some examples of hospitals that have had cases of Legionnaires’ disease involving patients are a hospital in San Antonio, Texas in 2007, one in Rochester, New York in 2008, and another in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009. As of now, no information regarding the identities of those infected has been released. All eight individuals sought hospitalization for their illnesses. As of this weekend, five have been released, and three remained in the hospital.
The hospital is notifying all of its patients who stayed at the hospital between February 24th and March 10th of their risk for the disease. The number of patients at risk is over 1,000. Past patients are being instructed that if they fall into this group and are experiencing cold- or flu-like symptoms, they should immediately seek medical care. Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection of respiratory system that can be cured with the administration of antibiotics.
State health officials have since toured the facility and declared it safe. According to media reports, all of the potential points of exposure have been treated or shut down since investigators identified Aurora Saint Luke’s Hospital as the potential source of the outbreak. These exposure points include shower heads, plant misters, hot tubs, respiratory equipment, and decorative fountains.