2 patients dead at UAB Hospital after testing positive for legionella bacteria

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Two of eight patients who tested positive for the legionella bacteria have died at UAB Hospital, according to UAB Hospital’s Chief Patient Safety and Clinical Effectiveness Officer Dr. Loring Rue.

Rue says the cause of death of the two patients has not yet been determined; however, the two patients did test positive for legionella in addition to their original illness.

“UAB Hospital has lifted most of the water restrictions it implemented in a limited area of the hospital late Saturday,” Rue said in a release. “Those precautionary measures were implemented out of an abundance of caution pending final results of tests after eight patients on one unit – hematology/oncology – tested positive for legionella, a bacteria that can cause a form of pneumonia called legionellosis.”

Patients in the unit are being asked to wear masks when flushing the toilet until the test results confirm the hospital’s steps taken to address the presence of the bacteria dealt with the issue.

“Although the initial water restriction limited sink and shower use, that has been addressed by the filters,” said Rue.“Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in hot tubs, hot water tanks and large plumbing systems common in office buildings, schools, hotels and hospitals.”

Rue says most people are exposed to legionella regularly and do not contract legionellosis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most cases of legionellosis can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

UAB Hospital says they will continue to make the safety of its staff and visitors their primary concern.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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