Dangerous Legionella pneumonia bacteria have once again proliferated at the VA Pittsburgh, a facility plagued with a history of fatal Legionnaires’ disease cases. Legionnaires’ disease (also known as legionellosis) is a severe form of pneumonia that can be fatal in up to 50% of hospital-acquired cases.
According to news sources, VA officials have announced that scheduled testing of the water system at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare campus, located on University Drive in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, yielded several positive results for Legionella.
On January 6th, samples from five sinks in a vacant administrative section were found to be positive for the bacteria. On January 25th, positive samples were taken in two adjacent sinks. Then, between January 25th and 27th, additional contaminated samples were curried from two sinks in an outpatient clinic and two different water supply lines.
VA spokesman Michael Marcus informed the press that:
“At this time, there are no cases of hospital-acquired Legionnaires’ disease … Water restrictions have been enacted for a significant portion of the University Drive hospital, including patient-care areas.” (1)
The Threat of Legionnaires’ Disease at VA Healthcare Centers
Between February 2011 and November 2012, VA Center Pittsburgh experienced a serious outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that sickened more than 29 people and killed at least five patients. In February of 2013, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the results of an investigation that suggested that officials at VA Pittsburgh had underreported the number of victims, had not adequately maintained their water system, and had failed to follow the CDC’s protocol for communicating positive lab results obtained from Legionnaires’ disease patients.
Other VA facilities across the United States have also witnessed Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. These include the Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City, Colorado, a VA hospital in Brockton, Massachusetts, and a deadly outbreak in Quincy, Illinois that made more than 50 people ill, killing 12 (11 residents and 1 visitor).
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(1) News Source: http://triblive.com/local/allegheny/11857501-74/hospital-disease-areas