Another veteran's death linked to Legionnaires

Source of disease still unknown

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A veteran who was admitted to a Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs facility with pneumonia and died in late January has since been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, but tests so far do not show that he acquired it inside a VA facility, the VA said late Friday.

The Pittsburgh VA said the veteran was admitted sometime in January to the VA's University Drive hospital in Oakland.

The veteran initially tested negative for Legionnaires using a urine antigen tests.

But on Friday, a new test result showed the presence of the Legionella bacteria in the veteran before he died, the VA said.

The hospital has taken and tested environmental samples from the various areas in the hospital where he was treated, and all the samples came back negative for Legionella. The source of the veteran's disease is not known.

The VA said it will continue to test to determine if the veteran acquired the disease at the hospital or in the community. Test results won't be available for several weeks, the VA said.

If the veteran's disease was traced back to the hospital, it would be perplexing to VA officials.

After a Legionnaires outbreak at the hospital was revealed in November to have sickened four patients, and later found to sicken 12 more and to have killed five veterans, the VA used hyper-chlorination to clean out the water systems that were the source of the bacteria.

Just this past Tuesday at a congressional hearing into the outbreak, VA officials said tests since November continue to show that the Legionella in the water is under control.

On Friday, the VA said in a statement that "sampling of the water supply is done every two weeks and continues to demonstrate remediation efforts taken in November, and ongoing, have been successful."

"VAPHS is committed to the prevention of Legionella and is continually looking to update best practices for prevention," it said.

neigh_city - health

Sean D. Hamill: shamill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2579.


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