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Water-Saving Measures Lead to Legionnaires’ Disease

Four patients contract the disease while in the hospital

November 30, 2018

The water system at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, WI, underwent extensive chlorination this week after four patients contracted Legionnaires’ disease, the Lacrosse Tribune reports.

The hospital’s medical director of infection control believes the legionella bacteria developed when facility officials implemented a plan to save water by curbing flow at low-demand times. Bacteria growth increases and hazardous biofilms form when water is stagnant.

Three of the patients remain at the hospital in fair condition and the fourth was released. Hospital officials will be on alert for additional cases within the next two weeks, the bacteria’s incubation period.

Hospital patients were not allowed to take showers earlier this week, before the water was treated with chlorine. The hospital has abandoned its plan to lower water flow.

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