BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT
15 July 2005, New Rochelle, US: Legionnaires' disease has hit at least nine patients and possibly infected another six at Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle, it is reported.
The nine who contracted the disease were all outpatients who used the same entrance at the medical center in the past month. It is believed that the patients might have picked up the bacterial infection by inhaling water vapour as they walked past a possibly contaminated cooling tower near the hospital, the report said.
Legionnaires' disease, a sometimes deadly bacterial infection occurs in people with weakened immune systems. Its symptoms can take several weeks to appear, and are often mistaken for those of pneumonia or another flu like illness.
Legionella, the bacteria that cause it are almost always present in most cities' water supplies, though it rarely causes sickness in people unless they have a chronic medical condition or underlying illness. People in hospitals are among those most susceptible to the disease, but most medical centers are not required to test for it, nor do they routinely disinfect their water supplies.
In April, a small but serious outbreak of Legionnaires' disease had killed two patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center's Milstein Hospital Building in Washington Heights.
The latest outbreak became apparent after county health officials noticed that four people in New Rochelle had contracted the disease since June 21. Health officials discovered that they had all used the hospital's outpatient entrance, which is near a cooling tower. Preliminary tests on samples of the water from the tower came back positive for