The University of Iowa Hospitals had an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the early 1980s involving 24 patients, 11 of whom died as a result of their illnesses.
UI did a major overhaul on its water system as a result of this outbreak. Despite this, several more patients at UI contracted the same illness about 10 years ago, two patients died. According to UI officials, it was unclear if the patients had contracted the illness while at the hospital or outside the hospital. Nevertheless, records show that the state paid a $500,000.00 settlement to the survivors of one of the patients.
According to Dr. Loreen Herwaldt, an epidemiologist for the UI Hospitals, the staff is very aware about Legionella and works to keep close tabs on the issue. Multiple disinfection methods for the water system are in place to prevent future outbreaks.
“It’s very, very rare that we get a positive” test result in the water, said Herwaldt.
Herwaldt further said that it’s been several years since anyone has become ill with Legionnaires’ disease at UI and that the medical staff routinely test for Legionella bacteria in people who have symptoms consistent with pneumonia.
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