Waco VA fighting small Legionella outbreak

POSTED: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 4:50pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 1:35pm

The Waco VA Medical Center has confirmed five of its buildings at one point had a form of bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ Disease, and the hospital is now doing all it can to prevent more cases from popping up.

In October, a veteran at the Waco VA had flu-like symptoms.

When doctors ran tests, they found the man had contracted Legionnaires’ Disease which can cause sickness similar to pneumonia.

A normal person’s immune symptom can typically fight the bacteria naturally, but those with weak immune systems or outlying health problems are at risk. And unfortunately, many people like this can be found at the VA.

“The guy is doing well. We treated the patient and he responded well to the antibiotics." said spokesperson Deborah Meyer.

The hospital sampled water from each of the 20 buildings on site.

Tests have begun to trickle in, and they say there are at least five buildings with the bacteria Legionella.

Each faucet in the buildings have been fitted with a filter. Administrators have already begun upping levels of chlorine in some of the water systems.

“We’re going to start a priority system and do the high-risk buildings first; the ones with the patients and work our way down to our administrative buildings," said Meyer.

The bacteria that causes the disease is contracted by inhaling infected water vapor.

The hospital is keeping a close eye on those with a persistent cough or fever.

“We’ve been hyper-vigilant," said Meyer. "Our nurses and doctors are trained to watch for those symptoms. And if they even have suspicion, all it takes is a simple urine test and it’s a quick turnaround. If they find it, and are seeing those types of symptoms, they put them on antibiotics and normally people respond to them well.”

Meyer said, “We’ve only had that one case. We haven’t had any more cases and that just goes to show that what we’re trying to do is right and also that the risk is low.”


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