It was on December 2016 when a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease was reported at the Harrison Medical Center. Subsequent testing of the water samples taken from the medical centre confirmed the presence of Legionella bacteria which are known to cause the disease.
In response to this, the hospital administration implemented control measures designed to protect both patients and hospital staff. These measures include hyper-chlorination of the water supply, elimination of the bacteria, and temporary water restrictions.
With the water restrictions put firmly in place, the hospital provides water to its staff and patients from bottles and dispensers. Additionally, water filters have been installed in showers and sinks in sensitive areas in the hospital, including the intensive and progressive care units.
This February, the hospital administration reported that water testing yielded negative results. These results were later confirmed by the American Department of Health.
But despite this positive news, hospital administration said that it is taking precautionary measures until further results come in. This means that water restrictions will remain in place until further testing confirms the total eradication of the bacteria from the hospital’s water supply.
Following the death of a patient, public health officials suspected that the cause of death was Legionnaires’ disease after reviewing the patient’s circumstances. These circumstances included the duration of the patient’s stay as well as the time frame required for the disease to take effect. In order to confirm these suspicions, the water supply of the hospital was subjected to testing and was compared to the bacteria sampled from the patient.
Through the sequencing of the genes found in the bacteria, the staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed suspicions that the bacteria found in the hospital’s water supply and from the sample taken from the patient were the same. But perhaps more importantly, the DNA sequencing conducted by the CDC led to the discovery of a new strain of Legionella that has not previously been identified. Water testing kits for Legionella are very effective in detecting these harmful bacteria. With regular use and effective control measures, Legionnaire’s disease can be easily prevented.
The Legionella bacteria can be commonly found in warm freshwater. Although healthy people will not get infected by Legionnaires’ disease, people with weak immune systems, smokers, and the elderly can succumb to the disease upon inhalation of contaminated water droplets. The disease cannot be spread from person to person.