Four UW hospital patients have developed Legionnaire's disease, and the hospital is investigating a connection with its hot water system,…
Four UW hospital patients have developed Legionnaire’s disease, and the hospital is investigating a connection with its hot water system, officials said Wednesday.
Legionaries, a type of pneumonia, are caused by bacteria that usually occur in low concentrations in tap water. Your hospital uses a water purification system designed to keep the levels low, but a new adjustment of that system may have jeopardized its function, officials said. Testing on some units in the hospital has recently shown elevated levels.
The four patients tested positive on urine tests carried out in the last 1
0 days. The hospital is now performing tests to determine if the bacteria are related to the hospital water system.
The risk comes only from hot water in the form of airborne drops, such as water from a hot shower, UW Hospital said in a statement. Cold tap water poses no risk. Healthy patients who can inhale water droplets with the bacteria are at low risk. Those with higher risk are people over 50 years old and people with lung disease or compromised immune system.
When the hospital became aware of the four patients with Legionnaires, officials blocked all use of hospital showers. It is expected to continue until sometime Thursday.
On Wednesday, the hospital performs a “hyperchlorination” process to flush all hot water pipes in the building to eliminate all Legionella bacteria. The hospital has also reported affected patients and staff about the situation.
The hospital monitors water routinely and when a patient is suspected of having legionaries. There have been no previous cases of legionella acquired at the University Hospital for 23 years. The American Family Children‘s Hospital is not affected.
Two of the four patients have been emptied from the hospital. The other two remain in hospital. At this time no further cases of legionaries have been identified.
The Wisconsin State Department of Public Health has also been informed and will be kept informed if further information is available.