Testing last week revealed that the water system of a hospital in Pittsburgh, PA has been contaminated with Legionella bacteria.
Allegheny General Hospital conducted tests for Legionella in their water supply after a cancer patient tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease. The patient had been discharged on May 20 for respiratory problems but had been readmitted four days later after a relapse; a urine test revealed that the patient had been infected with Legionella bacteria. Though hospital officials believe that the patient had been exposed to the bacteria outside of the hospital, they tested the hospital’s water supply and discovered Legionella in two of their water tanks.
Testing has yet to reveal whether the specific strain of Legionella that the patient contracted is the same as the one present in the water tanks. Still, the hospital has taken preventative measures against the spread of the disease and has notified the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The affected water tanks, one of which services several floors of the main inpatient facility, have been shut off. Hospital officials have also instructed patients to drink bottled water and to avoid using the showers. Maintenance crews have treated the water tanks with ionization and officials expect the hospital to return to full function soon.
The Allegheny General Hospital conducts regular testing for Legionella, and their quick response to the discovery of bacteria demonstrates the potential benefits of regular, mandatory testing at large-scale facilities. This testing is especially beneficial in hospitals, as individuals with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.
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Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.