"The patient has been discharged from the hospital and is doing reasonably well at this point. The patient did not have pneumonia, as best we can tell, on admission," says Dr. Edward Walsh, chief of the infectious disease unit at Rochester General Hospital.
Because the incubation period for Legionnaires' disease is two to 10 days, there is a small window of possibility the woman could have contracted the disease from the hospital's water system. While cleaning and testing of RGH's water system is routine, the hospital currently has infectious disease experts on hand this weekend testing all areas of the water system to determine the souce of the Legionnella bacteria. The team is working closely with the NYS Department of Health in the testing process. If legionella bacteria is found in the water system, it would be the first time the bacteria has been found in 18 years at Rochester General Hospital.
"Since legionella is known to live very openly in most water sources and so therefore, we've instituted policies or response to this by making some changes in patient care here at the hospital," said Walsk at a press conference Sunday afternoon at the hospital.
All patients at Rochester General Hospital are currently using bottle water for all activities and disposable bathing kits have been provided to patients. The use of bottled water will continue indefinitely until testing with the NYS Health Department determined the source of the bacteria. All water fountains have been turned off because injestion of the water could cause infection. Engineers are also working to determine a game plan to clean the water system at RGH to eliminate any possibility of Legionella bacteria.
"At this point, we have no evidence that there are any other cases but that is an ongoing investigation," says Walsh.
If you have any questions regarding the Legionnaires' case at Rochester General Hospital, please call the hospital's information line: (585) 922-LINK (5465)
Details on Legionnaires' Disease/Legionella Bacteria (courtesy U.S. Centers for Disease Control):
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, people contract Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor that has been contaminated with the bacteria. The bacteria are NOT spread from one person to another person.
The bacteria is found naturally in the environment, often in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, or parts of the air-conditioning systems of large buildings. Hospitals are often an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow.
Legionnaires' disease can be very serious and can cause death in up to 5% to 30% of cases. Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics. Healthy people usually recover from infection. Those patients with a compromised immune system (advanced stage cancer, elderly, chronic diseases) are most at risk of having a severe reaction to the infection.