U.S. Water News Online
TOWSON, Md. -- Officials at St. Joseph Medical Center
banned showers and distributed bottled water to patients recently
after an inspection of the hospital's hot water system revealed the
presence of the bacteria that can cause Legionnaire's disease.
The hospital, just north of Baltimore, began treating the hot
water system after tests taken last week revealed elevated levels of
legionella bacteria, said hospital spokeswoman Linda Harder.
Results from the tests were received earlier this week.
"From what I've heard, they're following, if not exceeding,
standard guidelines and practices," said David Blythe, medical
epidemiologist for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental
No patients currently at the hospital have contracted
Legionnaire's disease, a potentially fatal respiratory illness.
However, a patient who was recently released from St. Joseph has been
confirmed as having legionella and is recovering at home.
It is not clear if that patient contracted the bacteria at St.
Joseph, Harder said.
Legionella, a water-borne bacterium, can be inhaled when
water is released into the air, through air conditioners, steam, or
Earlier this month, a state health task force released
recommendations to hospitals that included routinely testing water
systems, giving doctors quick access to diagnostic tests, and setting
up Legionnaire's response teams to deal with outbreaks.
The task force was appointed after several cases of the illness
appeared in the Baltimore area last summer and four people died in
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