2 de ago. de 2014

Legionella bacteria in water at 2 Alabama VA hospitals

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- High levels of legionella bacteria have been found in the water at the Montgomery and Tuskegee campuses of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care system, posing a health threat to patients.
There have not yet been any reported cases among staff or patients of Legionnaires' disease or Pontiac fever, which are respiratory infections caused by the bacteria, according to a report and emails leaked by CAVHCS staff to the Montgomery Advertiser.
Annual testing of the two campuses' water distribution system on July 9 and 10 found that eight of the 12 sites, or about 67 percent, tested positive for legionella pneumophilia, according to the report.
The July 25 results showed that four sites at Montgomery and four at Tuskegee tested positive for the bacteria, the report said.
According to the emails, patients from one room at the Montgomery facility and two mental health rooms at Tuskegee were relocated. An employee said all patients who have been in those areas for the past six months will need to be tested for the bacteria.
A formal corrective action plan is required when 30 percent of the samples collected contain the bacteria, according to the memorandum. The plan includes close monitoring of water tanks and detailed plans to eliminate the bacteria.
A statement from the VA Southeast Region said CAVHCS reported that the water supply in each of the rooms is being heated to remove the legionella, and filters are being installed on the faucets to protect patients from the bacteria.
The statement said they are also treating their water holding tanks to enhance the quality of the water, and will continue to test the system.
Tina Pippin, an Alabama Department of Public Health manager, said legionella disease outbreaks are reported when two or more individuals who live in separate households have symptoms, which include pneumonia, cough, fever and chills. Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia, whereas Pontiac fever is milder, flu-like and does not affect the lungs, according to the Mayo Clinic's website.
The bacteria, which is found naturally in water, can cause disease when mist or water vapor is inhaled, not by drinking the contaminated water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacteria can incubate inside a human for two to 14 days.
Legionnaire's disease and Pontiac fever are associated with contamination within building water distribution systems.
Scott Hughes, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, said there's no maximum contaminant level for legionella that establishes thresholds for harmful levels.
Hughes said ADEM regulates public drinking water plants and distribution with chlorine contact requirements. Chlorine kills any harmful bacteria before it reaches water customers, he said.
He said ADEM got in touch with water companies in Montgomery and Tuskegee, and neither have had any problems with legionella.
"We've sampled water in that area and we don't have a problem," said Buddy Morgan, general manager of the Montgomery Water Works and Sewer Board. "We run about 40 to 50 samples a day from all throughout the city."
CAVHCS physicians are monitoring the situation, according to the statement.

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