Bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease found in Butler VA center

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Bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease have been found in the water supply at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare center in Butler.

There have been no cases of the disease at VA Butler Healthcare as a result of the finding, but the water system to Building Two, where the sample was found, will be shut down.

The Building Two water system will be treated and re-tested, spokeswoman Amanda Kurtz said.

One positive sample of the bacterium Legionella was identified in preliminary test results, as part of preventative testing and monitoring of the campus water system, she added.

A contingency plan for water and hand sanitation will continue in that building until results test negative. Building Two services include outpatient rehabilitation, physical therapy, prosthetics and administrative offices.

Clinical care will continue as planned.

The finding follows and outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at a VA hospital in Oakland that has resulted in at least one death, and possibly as many as three.

On Monday, the family of a Navy World War II veteran who died last month after contracting Legionnaires' disease at the Pittsburgh VA hospital in Oakland filed a civil claim against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

William E. Nicklas, 87, of Hampton, was the fifth person to contract the disease from a VA facility, the VA announced Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, though they never identified him publicly.

Legionnaires' disease typically spreads through water systems to people. About 8,000 to 10,000 people each year are hospitalized with the disease, but the Centers for Disease Control and other experts believe many more cases occur each year, diagnosed as other illnesses such as pneumonia, which is similar to Legionnaires' disease.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede.


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