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Four patients diagnosed with Legionnaires' pneumonia

November 19, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA — Four patients at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System's University Drive Campus in Oakland have developed pneumonia caused by Legionnaires' disease, and many more are thought to have been exposed to the potentially deadly bacteria, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The source of the infection has been traced to the hospital’s water distribution system, prompting workers to change the way the system is disinfected, the article stated.

water problemsAccording to the article, an e-mail from Dave Cowgill, a spokesman for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, said that the restrictions on water use started Friday and would remain in effect until administrators are sure the bacteria is gone.

The hospital conducted an investigation with the help of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found an elevated concentration of the bacteria called Legionella, which tends to survive in the moist air-conditioning systems of large buildings and within waterlines and storage systems that get irregular or little use, the article noted.

"Our existing copper-silver ionization system, which reduces the presence of Legionella in water, may not be as effective as previously thought, as is the case in other health systems using this method," said Cowgill.

"Consequently, we are shifting to a chlorination system to ensure better control," Cowgill added.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.