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Another patient infected with Legionnaires’ disease has been discovered by officials at Mount Carmel East, the third Legionnaires case at the Columbus, Ohio, hospital in less than in a week.
Mount Carmel Health System released the following statement:
“Working with local health officials, we’ve determined at least three possible healthcare-associated cases of Legionnaires’ disease in individuals who recently received treatment at Mount Carmel East. We are partnering with Columbus Public Health (CPH) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), in conjunction with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), to identify the source of bacteria.
“While these are currently identified as possible healthcare-associated cases, we are taking every precaution to protect our patients, staff, and visitors, including installing temporary state-of-the-art water filters. We are running additional tests on water sources throughout the hospital, and our water supply is undergoing additional chlorination. We’re confident that we can safely maintain full services of the hospital while we study this situation.”
Earlier this week, CPH released that the first two patients were an 87-year-old man from Franklin County and a 92-year-old woman from Licking County. No other information was released on the three patients.
Mount Carmel East outbreak: source unknown
The source of the Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, has yet to be located, although environmental testing is ongoing, and water restrictions are being enforced.
A 2015 study by the CDC stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”
According to the CDC, better water-management programs “identify hazardous conditions and include taking steps to minimize the growth and spread of Legionella in building water systems. Having a water management program is now an industry standard for large buildings in the United States.”
Mount Carmel East outbreak: high risk
Mount Carmel Health System officials emphasized that the “risk of developing the disease is low for most.” Healthy people exposed to Legionella usually do not get sick, but people 50 years old and older – especially those who smoke or have chronic lung conditions – are at a higher risk.
Other people more susceptible to infection include:
- recipients of organ transplants
- individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
- heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.
This list also includes anyone with an immune system weakened by:
- frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections
- organ inflammation and infection
- blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia
- digestive problems, such as cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea, and nausea
- delayed growth and development.
After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death – and about 10 percent of those infected will die from the infection.
Mount Carmel East outbreak: more woes
This is the third Legionella issue to affect the Mount Carmel Health System this year:
Mount Carmel Grove City: The first, announced May 31, occurred at this hospital in suburban Columbus. Franklin County Public Health confirmed 16 patients were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and one victim died. The outbreak occurred a little more than a month after the seven-floor, $361 million hospital opened on April 28.
Trinity Health, the Michigan-based parent company of the Mount Carmel Health System, traced the infectious Legionella to the facility’s hot water system. Officials said the contamination was the result of “inadequate disinfection,” and they admitted they failed to adequately re-test and re-clean the water supply on particular floors before the hospital opened.
Cricket Miller of Grove City said her grandmother was one of the patients diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. After learning about the Mount Carmel East outbreak, Miller was interviewed by NBC4i.com. “The whole thing is very frustrating,” she said. “It’s maddening, and it’s disgusting that the possibility that another one of the Mount Carmel facilities could’ve had a Legionella outbreak after what we saw over the summer with Mount Carmel Grove City.”
Mount Carmel College of Nursing: In August, the Mount Carmel Health System’s other struggle with Legionella occurred at the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. Officials said elevated levels of the bacteria were detected in the water supply at Marian Hall on the Carmel College of Nursing’s Franklinton campus. Construction disrupted the building’s water supply, and subsequent water tests uncovered the presence of the bacterium. Health officials reported no illnesses.
Mount Carmel East outbreak: symptoms
You should seek care from your health-care provider if you are or were a patient at Mount Carmel East, an employee of, or recent visitor to the hospital, and are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms.
The onset of symptoms, which usually occurs two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, generally includes:
- muscle pains
- fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:
- cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
- shortness of breath also called dyspnea
- chest pains also called pleurisy or pleuritis
- gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- confusion and other mental changes.
Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases caused by Legionella: Legionnaires’ disease, which is also called Legionella pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a less-severe illness that does not affect the lungs.