Hospital now waiting for Legionella test results

HERVEY Bay Hospital is waiting to see if the efforts to remove the Legionella outbreak from its water system have worked, while patients are still receiving bottled water and sponge baths.

The water networks at the hospital were flushed on May 22 and it is a waiting game until tests confirm whether the system has been sanitised.

Precautionary measures undertaken to minimise the risk of Legionella contraction will continue until the hospital is cleared of the bacteria.

These measures include the provision of bottled drinking water to patients and sponge-bathing.

So far no-one has presented with Legionnaire's disease and while one patient was tested as a precaution the results were negative.

The hospital is still investigating the source of the outbreak and will conduct a review once test results are in.

Testing for the bacteria across the hospital was ordered by Queensland Health after initial autopsy results of a patient indicated the presence of the bacteria in his body.

An outbreak in the hospital's water system was confirmed on May19 after the results came back.

To inhibit the growth of Legionella bacteria, hot water must be stored at no less then 60 degrees Celsius and tempered with cold water for delivery to taps.

The Master Plumbers' Association Queensland has made calls for the government to implement a hot water temperature control device maintenance scheme and to increase testing of the thermostatic mixing valves responsible for the tempering water.

Results are also expected within the next three weeks to confirm whether the strain identified in autopsy and in the hospital's water system are the same.

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