2 cases of Legionella infection identified

Extensive testing of the water in the medical center has been negative for the bacteria.

Media Contact: Susan Gregg - sghanson@uw.edu, 206-390-3226

Two patients treated in September at the University of Washington Medical Center - Montlake were diagnosed with Legionella infection (Legionnaires’ disease). These cases are considered possible healthcare-associated infections. One of these patients has been discharged home and one patient remains admitted.

Extensive testing of the water in the medical center has been negative for Legionella.

We are working closely with Public Health–Seattle & King County, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate these cases and to ensure the safety of all our patients and staff.

UW Medical Center – Montlake has a robust water management plan that includes testing and monitoring the water for temperature, chlorine levels and the presence of water-borne bacteria.

“We don’t know the source of the patients’ infections in these cases, and we may never know because often patients have very complex medical situations,” said Claire Brostrom-Smith, healthcare-associated infections manager at Public Health–Seattle & King County. “However, we consider any patient with Legionnaires’ disease who stayed in a healthcare facility for part of the 14 days before symptom onset as a possible healthcare-associated infection. We are working closely with UW Medical Center – Montlake on this investigation. They have a strong Legionella prevention and response plan in place and are taking the recommended steps.”

 Legionella is a common water-borne bacteria and can be found in building water systems. People are usually exposed by breathing in small droplets of water that have the bacteria. The bacteria do not spread person to person. Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick. People at increased risk of getting sick include people 50 years and older, cigarette smokers, and people with certain underlying health conditions, including chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems.

Patients with concerns should call their local healthcare provider.

For details about UW Medicine, please visit http://uwmedicine.org/about.


UW Medicine