Ohio hospital confirms hot water system source of Legionnaires' disease outbreak

Mount Carmel Grove City (Ohio) hospital confirmed bacteria in its hot water system caused a Legionnaires' disease outbreak resulting in 16 confirmed cases and one death.

The hospital conducted extensive testing of its water systems and found that samples taken from May 23 through June 1 showed significant legionella bacteria in the hot water system. The hospital believes the bacteria is linked to inadequate disinfection before the hospital opened April 28.

"There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our patients and colleagues," a statement from the hospital and its President Sean McKibben reads. "Every day we are trusted with people's lives and we take that responsibility seriously. We are implementing a long-term solution to ensure legionella is effectively controlled and that this doesn't happen again."

The hospital implemented water restrictions May 31, which is when a full investigation of the outbreak began, and then performed a hyper-chlorination process, where high doses of chlorine are used to disinfect water systems. Water restrictions were lifted June 7. The hospital has since installed a permanent supplemental disinfection system and implemented a new protocol that calls for daily flushing in patient rooms.

Legionella bacteria, which occurs naturally, can grow and spread in complex man-made water systems, which is when it becomes a health concern, the CDC says.

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