Pittsburgh VA: Fatal case of Legionnaires' disease contracted outside the Oakland hospital

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Tests on a man who was a patient at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs hospital in Oakland and died at the end of January after contracting Legionnaires' disease show that he did not contract the illness in the hospital.

The Pittsburgh VA said in a press release today that Legionella bacteria obtained from the man's lung tissue was compared by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to a sample of the bacteria from inside the hospital and found not to be the same.

The CDC told the Pittsburgh VA that the Legionella bacteria the man contracted is a "virulent strain" associated with outbreaks in both the United States and Canada, and it recommended remediation of the man's home, according to the press release.

The federal healthcare agency has dealt for four months with the fallout of a Legionnaires' outbreak it revealed in November had infected 21 patients in 2011 and 2012 and killed five.

The Pittsburgh VA emphasized in the press release that it is still sampling its water supply every two weeks and that such sampling "continues to demonstrate remediation efforts taken in November, and ongoing, have been successful."

Legionnaires is a water-borne disease that is typically contracted when a person inhales infected water vapor into the lungs.

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


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