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Legionella Bacteria Found In St. Patrick Hospital Water Supply

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The bacteria that causes Legionnaires Disease was recently discovered in the water supply at Missoula’s St. Patrick Hospital.

A call to the hospital led to a recorded announcement about the contamination, that is attached to this story. Below, find the text of the message.

Recently, a patient tested positive for the Legionella bacteria at St. Patrick Hospital.

Legionella disease is a lung infection that can be acquired through inhaling mist or vapor containing elevated levels of bacteria. In response, St. Patrick Hospital initiated a full investigation to determine the source of the bacteria by performing water testing in full accordance with national and local infection control guidelines.

Legionella was detected in the water supply within the main hospital building.

The finding of Legionella is not a crisis, and not uncommon. The bacteria is commonly found in residential and commercial water systems as well as environmental water sources such as lakes and streams, however, to minimize any potential risks, and as a precautionary measure, St. Patrick Hospital is taking immediate steps to ensure the safety of our patients and caregivers.

In general, the risk of developing the disease even after an exposure is extremely low. Risk factors for developing Legionella disease include age over 50, smoking, current or former, chronic lung disease, cancer, end-stage renal disease, and an immuno-compromised state.

Initial symptoms can be non-specific. Symptoms can include high fever, confusion, and abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Water treatment is occurring at the hospital, and water filters will be used at point-of-use to minimize risks to patients. The bacteria is not transmitted through our drinking water. It is safe to use our public water fountains. It is safe to use sinks for routine hygiene and hand washing.

There is no need for patients to delay or cancel elective surgery.

Based on testing results appropriate control measures have been implemented, including providing bottled water for drinking because of aspiration risks and showering will be limited for patients.

St. Patrick Hospital has been working with and will continue to work with the CDC, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and the Missoula City County Health Department.

If you have any general questions about Legionella, please go to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc dot gov.

People who are experiencing any signs and symptoms should contact their primary care physician.

 

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