HASTINGS, Mich. — One person is dead following a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at a hospital in Hastings.
The Barry-Eaton District Health Department confirmed Thursday that the Legionella bacteria has been detected in the water supply of the Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital in Hastings.
The test results were delivered to the district health department Wednesday after a series of water system tests were completed. Dr. Leslie Jurecko with Spectrum Health said the testing was part of a national protocol sparked after a second patient was diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease.
“Because of that there are routine protocols on when to test and when to not test,” Jurecko said. “We did follow what the advice was of the health department.”
Legionnaire’s disease is a type of pneumonia and is caused by the Legionella bacteria.
Daniel Woodhall, medical director at the health department, explained the timeline of the outbreak: A patient at the hospital was diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease in September; another patient was diagnosed in November; that second patient sparked the hospital-wide water testing.
“We cannot correlate the two cases of Legionnaire’s disease and the bacteria in the water,” Woodhall said.
He said that the one person who died was elderly and it was “a complicated case.” The other person known to be infected with Legionnaire’s disease was treated and released without complication.
Angela Ditmar, president of Spectrum Health Pennock, said the hospital has switched to bottled water since the positive test results Wednesday, and a new filtration system will be installed by the end of Friday. She said once the filter is in place, the hospital will no longer need bottled water.
“They [new filtration system] will take care of that. We will no longer need to use bottled water,” Ditmar said. ”With the water treatment system that we are putting in place too, that’s the long-term plan, it needs to be in place for a certain amount of time before we can do further cultures.”
Ditmar said the hospital will continue testing the water in the building until there is no Legionella bacteria detected.
The city of Hasting’s water supply is not impacted by the Legionella bacteria and is safe to drink. Woodhall said the disease is not transmitted person to person and can only be contracted by inhaling mist or small water droplets containing Legionella.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 10 percent of people who contract Legionnaire’s disease will die. There is no vaccine for the disease, but there are antibiotic treatments available.
Legionnaire’s disease is the illness that killed 12 people in Flint after the city's water supply was switched to a new source; more than 85 others contracted the disease.
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