Two Legionnaires’ disease cases reported at Seattle hospital

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SEATTLE — Public health officials are investigating after two people contracted a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaire’s disease at a Seattle hospital. One of them died.

The University of Washington Medical Center notified Public Health – Seattle & King County that a man in his 40s is being discharged after his case was reported Wednesday. But a woman in her 20s whose case was reported on Thursday died Friday.

Officials say she was extremely ill and had multiple underlying conditions, so it’s not clear yet whether Legionnaires’ was a cause of her death.

A third man, in his 60s, remains at the hospital but health officials say he appears to have contracted the disease outside the hospital.

The infection is caused by inhaling water droplets that contain Legionella bacteria, which can thrive in large plumbing systems, hot water tanks and other water sources. It can be treated with antibiotics, but it's fatal about 10 percent of the time.

The hospital is limiting exposure to water sources, including tap and shower water, until the source is identified.

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