Legionella detected in California VA hospital's water supply

Quarterly water safety testing revealed the presence of Legionella bacteria at Loma Linda, Calif.-based Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center, reports the San Bernardino Sun.

Hospital officials detected the bacteria in the building's water system June 13. The hospital placed out-of-service signs on all affected water sources as a safety precaution until the bacteria can be removed.

"This does not mean there is a Legionella outbreak," Pettis Medical Center spokesperson Wade J. Habshey said in a statement cited by the San Bernardino Sun. "The facility has a zero-tolerance policy for Legionella."

In February, a group of physicians and nurses at the medical center filed a federal whistle-blower complaint, claiming hospital administration did not inform medical staff when Legionella was first discovered at the facility in 2017 and has failed to address the contamination issue.

The VA plans to conduct a yearlong Legionella remediation process for the entire VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, which could cost as much as $1 million, according to an online bid notice cited by the San Bernardino Sun.

Legionella bacteria can cause a virulent form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires' disease. Individuals can contract the illness by inhaling small droplets of contaminated water in mist or vapor.

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