Web Zap*Germs Archive

May 02, 2005

Legionnaires' Disease Killing Patients in New York Hospital

The New York Daily News reports that Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York has discovered a number of patients have died from Legionnaire's bacteria. An investigation by state health inspectors is underway.
Victor Yu, a Pittsburgh doctor and one of the nation's top experts on Legionnaires', said Columbia Presbyterian brought him to New York in January to advise the hospital on how to keep the bacteria out of its water.

"I believe they had some intermittent cases, all of whom - or most of whom - survived," he said. "I'm going to guess that even though they had everything in place, something slipped through, and I would say that's almost impossible to stop."

Legionnaires' bacteria [Legionella pneumophila] are commonly found in water pipes and are not usually harmful. But in a hospital setting they can attack elderly patients or those with compromised immune systems, giving patients a form of pneumonia.

Experts say Legionnaires' is almost certainly underreported in hospitals, which can often find the bacteria or the infection if they look hard enough.


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