News

Legionella confirmed at Hervey Bay Hospital

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service CEO Adrian Pennington has confirmed Legionella bacteria has been found in Hervey Bay Hospital.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service CEO Adrian Pennington has confirmed Legionella bacteria has been found in Hervey Bay Hospital. Carlie Walker

PATIENTS have been told to only drink bottled water and avoid the showers at Hervey Bay Hospital after tests confirmed legionella in its water supply.

A patient who died at the facility was found to have legionella on April 20, prompting further checks in addition to the hospital's routine water testing.

On Wednesday, Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Adrian Pennington confirmed the bacteria had been found in the hospital and said the man's cause of death was still being investigated, as well as the source of his legionella.

Senior members of the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service have met with the patient's family to discuss the issue, and measures are being put in place to protect current patients.

"We have a rigorous testing process of our water in hospitals and when we have a positive result we err on the side of caution," Mr Pennington said.

While the hospital awaits results of a second round of water testing, patients will now receive sponge baths, and be given bottled water.

Tap water will not be used for any invasive procedures, and the hospital will also flush its water system with scalding water followed by disinfectant, to ensure there is no systemic bacterial growth in the lines.

"It follows that there will be some inconvenience while we wait for results from the second round of testing but water quality is one of our highest priorities,'' Mr Pennington said.

A team of public health, environmental health, and building and maintenance staff from the Wide Bay HHS are currently undertaking testing of water systems across multiple sites within the Hervey Bay hospital.

Wide Bay HHS public health physician Dr Margaret Young said it was important to remember that legionella bacteria was always present in the environment and was often found in low concentrations in water supplies.

Usually only a small percentage of people exposed to the bacteria go on to develop legionnaires disease, which is a type of pneumonia - but the people most at risk of serious illness are those aged over 50, smokers, or those with a weak immune system or an existing medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or cancer.

LEGIONNAIRES DISEASE

There were 45 cases of legionnaires disease in Queensland last year

Symptoms including fever, headache and muscle aches

Transmission is through inhalation of contaminated droplets during activities such as showering

13 HEALTH can be contacted for further information

Topics:  editors picks health hervey bay hervey bay hospital hospital



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