Legionnaires' Disease in hospitals and health care facilities
In early June, the CDC published a report that showed 80% of cases of Legionnaires’ disease were associated with a long term care centers. As much as 18% were acquired form hospitals.
Due to the nature of hospitals and nursing homes there is an increased risk of infection of vulnerable occupants. The Legionella Control Association describes Legionnaires’ disease as ‘a potentially fatal form of pneumonia that can affect anybody, but principally affects those who are susceptible because of age, illness, immunosuppression, smoking etc.’
According to the CDC, one in 10 people will die from acquiring Legionnaires’ disease under normal circumstances, but if the disease is contracted from a health care facility, the odds off death jump to one in 4. The thought is that Legionnaire’s disease in health care environments is more severe and that hospitalized patients, being ill or in some form of bad health, have less positive outcomes when facing the infection.
The importance of Legionella control and monitoring
Legionnaires diseases is preventable when the water systems are managed properly. According to CDC: ‘ Legionella growth occurs in building water systems that are not managed adequately and where disinfectant levels are low, water is stagnant, or water temperatures are ideal for growth of bacteria.’
The Acting Director of the CDC, Anne Schuchat, M.D., stresses the importance of monitoring the water supply in hospitals, long term care facilities, and other health care centers. She says that Legionnaires’ disease in hospitals is widespread, deadly, and preventable. Controlling these bacteria in water systems can be challenging, but it is essential to protect patients.”
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