- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - The federal Department of Veterans Affairs says it will flush and decontaminate the water system of its Prescott hospital after detecting the bacterium that causes the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease.

VA spokeswoman Mary Dillinger said the agency discovered nine positive tests for the bacterium on Oct. 14 in several locations, including employee restrooms, a break room, a lab sink and a former overflow room.

None of the rooms was used by patients, and the VA has not received any reports of anyone with Legionnaires’ symptoms, Dillinger said.

A VA letter provided to Northern Arizona VA Health Care System employees Thursday said inpatient veterans were being provided bottled water to brush their teeth and that patients in one building weren’t being allowed to take showers. “Please understand this is a low risk,” the letter stated.

Flushing and decontamination will be performed Saturday, Dillinger said.

“We are taking extra, extra, extra precautions,” she said.

The Legionnaires’ disease takes its name from a deadly outbreak at a Pennsylvania American Legion convention at a Philadelphia hotel in 1976.

More recently, at least six patients died and 16 were sickened in a 2011-2012 outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in VA hospitals in the Pittsburgh area.

The bacterium believed to be responsible for the disease is found in soil and grows in water in places such as air conditioning ducts, rivers and storage tanks.

The story was first reported by the Daily Courier. The Prescott newspaper reported that the VA did not issue a press release about the bacteria being detected at the Prescott hospital and that the paper learned of it from concurrent current and former employees.

“We did not do a press release because there is no public health risk,” Schaefer said.

The letter to employees said they could tell patients who asked questions that they found the bacterium in the water, but Schaefer wasn’t aware of any directive to tell patients or visitors.

In hindsight, Schaefer said the VA might notify the public of any future positive tests for the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide