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Kane Resident Ill With Legionella; Water Use Restricted

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
November 03, 2016
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Allegheny County officials have restricted water use at Kane Regional Center in McKeesport after a resident tested positive for Legionella bacteria.

Letters have been sent to families of all residents and a new water purification system has been installed at the 360-bed facility, which cares for the elderly and for patients suffering serious debilitating illnesses.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs said Thursday that a resident of Kane McKeesport was taken to an area hospital on Oct. 24 and tested positive for Legionella, a water-borne bacteria that can cause a serious respiratory disease called Legionnaires' Disease.

Legionella bacteria breed in water and air conditioning systems. Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill, but people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems --- such as patients in hospitals --- are at risk of serious infection.

The bacteria can enter a patient's lungs when water mist --- such as from a shower --- is breathed in.

In 2011 and 2012, at least six patients died following an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease at Pittsburgh's Veterans Affairs hospital in Oakland and another 16 were made seriously ill. Another outbreak was reported at the same hospital in 2015.

Downs said the patient at Kane McKeesport, whose name was not released, had been admitted to Kane about one week earlier due to "multiple medical issues."

Kane McKeesport has two separate water systems, one for the A-Wing and one for the B-Wing, Downs said. The resident had been housed on the B-Wing.

The state Department of Health and the Allegheny County Health Department were notified, Downs said, and residents and staff on the B-Wing were directed to use bottled water. In addition, showers were restricted and a specialized water treatment system for the elimination of Legionella bacteria was installed, she said.

Water samples were taken on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, Downs said. On Thursday, the county was notified that the water samples tested positive for Legionella bacteria, she said.

Residents on the A-Wing are also now using bottled water, Downs said.

Additional samples will be taken Monday, she said, and restrictions on use of the water will not be lifted until the system tests negative for Legionella.

Originally published November 03, 2016.

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