Legionella bacteria found in water tanks of Allegheny General Hospital

Legionella bacteria found in water tanks of Allegheny General Hospital

Water in two tanks at Allegheny General Hospital was found positive for Legionella bacteria, microbes that cause a severe kind of pneumonia known as Legionaire’s disease. The bacteria were detected during an unscheduled evaluation caused by a cancer patient who was tested positive for the bacteria.

Dr. Sam Reynolds, the chief quality officer for the Allegheny Health Network, said that water assessment at hospital is done regularly. The infection that contracted the patient is not believed to be spread by hospital. The patient was admitted for treatment, but there is no information in his present status. No other patients have been tested positive.

The bacteria are found natural in the environment. Those with weak immune systems are at risk. The Legionaire’s disease is not communicable. However, this can be contracted by inhaling mist contaminated with the bacteria. The incidences of Legionnaires' disease have more than quadrupled in recent years.

The affected tanks of the hospital provide water to floors four through twelve. The operating rooms and cafeteria are below that, thus not affected. Lots of cautions are being exercised at the hospital. Though the illness does not spread through drinking water, patients are advised to use bottled water.

“The water tanks are being treated. We did the treatment last evening of the water tank, and we will retest the water tank today, to make sure it is clear. It takes about a week for those cultures to come back”, said Reynolds.

The CDC reported last week that number of diagnoses of the disease has increased from 1,127 in 2000 to 5,166 in 2014.


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