Veterans Affairs Hospital in Pittsburgh is currently under water restriction after the discovery of Legionella bacteria in many areas of the hospital.
This is not the first time that Veterans Affairs hospital is coping with Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. In 2011 and 2012, at least six patients were declared dead due to Legionnaires’ disease and 22 fell sick.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionellosis is a respiratory disease caused by the Legionella bacteria. The bacteria causes a type of pneumonia, a lung infection, commonly called the Legionnaires’ disease. A less serious infection can also be caused by the bacteria called Pontiac fever, which shows symptoms of mild flu infection.
The bacterium was discovered in the Veterans Affairs hospital during routine water testing and immediately prompted the authorities to implement water restrictions.
Water samples from five sinks located in an unoccupied administrative unit were tested positive for Legionella bacteria on Jan. 6. The result followed discovery of the same bacterium in two other water samples from adjacent sinks on Jan. 15.
“Water restrictions have been enacted for a significant portion of the University Drive hospital, including patient-care areas. At this time, there are no cases of hospital-acquired Legionnaires’ disease,” said Michael Marcus, spokesperson for the hospital.
Water from the hospital will not be used for drinking, making ice, washing hands, bathing or showering per the rules of restriction. The affected areas where the restriction has been implemented are provided with bagged ice and bottled water. Portable hand washing stations are currently used in the hospital during the entire period of restriction.
The restriction has been implemented for 14 days. During this time period, the hospital administration will conduct remediation work to eradicate the bacteria from the affected areas.
The hospital’s director of infection protection, Brooke Decker said that employees and patients of the hospital were notified by the authorities about this development. They also posted signs in the affected areas for further caution.
Fast Facts On Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionella bacteria are usually found in freshwater. It becomes a matter of concern when the bacteria starts festering in man-made water systems like: undrained hot tubs, showers and faucets, hot water tanks and heater and large plumbing systems. The bacterium grows best in warm water.
An estimated 5,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease is reported in the U.S. annually and according to the CDC 1 in 10 people infected with Legionnaires’ disease succumbs to death. The disease is basically not contagious but can be possible in rare cases.
Pontiac fever or Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted if people breathe-in minute water droplets containing Legionella bacteria.
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