U of Wisconsin hospital Legionnaires' patient dies; 5th case identified

One patient with Legionnaires' disease has died at University of Wisconsin Health's University Hospital in Madison, according to WISC-TV. Additionally, the hospital has identified a new patient infected with the disease.

On Nov. 28, UW Health announced four cases of Legionnaires' disease at University Hospital identified over the previous 10 days. While two of the patients had been discharged at the time of the announcement, the other two were still hospitalized.

One of the patients has died. "The patient was in the hospital for multiple and severe health problems and the death was not unexpected," a UW Health spokesperson told WISC-TV.

There is also a fifth person who has tested positive for the disease. The patient has begun antibiotic treatment.

UW Health's hot water system may be to blame for the spread of the disease. Legionnaires' is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria present in tap water at low concentrations. It can be contracted when people inhale droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria. The hospital is using a hyperchlorination process to eliminate any Legionella bacteria in water lines.

SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital in Madison also identified a case of Legionnaires' disease, according to Madison.com. The patient did not have any contact with UW's University Hospital and is believed to have contracted the disease in a community setting, not in a healthcare facility.

Editor’s note: This story ran in the Becker’s Hospital Review e-newsletter Nov. 30 with an inaccurate headline in the subject line of the newsletter. Legionnaires’ disease was not confirmed as the cause of death of the patient, although the patient did have Legionnaires’ disease at the time of death. Becker’s regrets the error.

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