Case of Legionella confirmed at Bellevue hospital; new case reported at UW

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Victorian-era diseases making comeback

BELLEVUE — Two new cases of Legionella pneumonia have been reported, with one case confirmed at a Bellevue hospital previously without the bacteria.

A patient at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue has been diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia, hospital officials said Monday. The patient is doing well, officials said, and their health has improved.

Overlake immediately took steps to minimize the likelihood of further exposure to other patients following the diagnosis, officials said. Workers shut down, tested and sterilized ice machines and water sources around the building. The results of the tests have not yet been returned.

The case comes a couple of weeks after four were sickened with the bacteria at the University of Washington Medical Center.  The outbreak was believed to be cleared, officials said, but on Monday the officials confirmed a fifth patient was diagnosed with the bacterial infection.

The latest case, a woman in her 50s, was diagnosed Sunday, the Seattle Times reports.

The case at Overlake is not related to recent cases at the University of Washington Medical Center. The outbreak, appearing to stem from infected water systems, has now sickened five people , including two who have died.

UW Medical Center told public health officials that environmental samples in the water supply in the Cascade Tower, where the cardiac care unit is located, tested positive for Legionella. UW said they took “immediate steps to reduce the risk where Legionella has been found in the water.” Special water filters were installed in the sinks and showers of the inpatient units.

UW Medical Center officials said they would continue to monitor the water systems.

Legionella is a form of atypical pneumonia often found naturally in fresh water.

Most healthy people do not get sick when being exposed to Legionella.

Here is more information on Legionella:

Who is at higher risk of getting sick?

Most healthy people do not get sick after being exposed to Legionella. People at increased risk of getting sick are:

  • People 50 years or older
  • Current or former smokers
  • People with a chronic lung disease (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema)
  • People with a weak immune system from diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure
  • People who take medications that suppress (weaken) the immune system (like after a transplant operation or chemotherapy)
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