Hospitals and Nursing Homes Need to Step up Prevention against Legionnaires’ Disease: CDC

Published Date : Jun 07, 2017

Health officials in the U.S. brought to notice on Tuesday that hospitals and nursing homes still have much to do in order to safeguard their patients from Legionnaires’ disease, which can be contracted from contaminated water. After analyzing over 2,800 cases of Legionnaires’ disease that occurred in 2015, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that around 553 cases were possibly or definitely emerging from health care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes. Of these, 66 patients succumbed from the disease.

Elderly Patients Especially at Risk

Legionnaires’ disease – a potentially life-threatening type of pneumonia – is caused by the Legionella bacteria that thrives in stored water systems such as pipes and storage tanks. People with weak immune systems and geriatrics are at a higher risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that as a result, nursing homes as well as hospitals need to be extra careful about protecting patients from this bacteria, which may breed in places such as sinks, showers, and bathtubs. Medical equipment that use water are also under scrutiny.

Prevalence of Legionnaires’ in the US

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report states that in 2015, an estimated 6,079 cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurred across the country. The assessment was limited to 2,809 cases in 20 cities in the US and in New York City. Of these, it was found that 85 cases were definitely associated with health care facilities and 468 were possible associations. Of the 85 Legionnaires’ cases that were most certainly linked with health care units, 15% to 18% were linked to hospitals and a whopping 68% to 80% were connected to long term health care facilities such as nursing homes.