A Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a hospital in Wisconsin has killed three people, a hospital official confirmed to Fox News.
A UW Hospital spokeswoman, Lisa Brunette, told Fox News in a statement Thursday that there have been 14 confirmed cases of the disease. Of those 14, three people died.
“Laboratory testing of three patients has confirmed that the strain of Legionella in those patients is the same strain previously found in the hospital’s water system,” she said in the statement, adding “some patients could not provide samples necessary for such testing.”
The three patients who died had other “serious, life-limiting health conditions,” The Wisconsin State Journal reported.
While one patient remains in the hospital for “ongoing treatment of serious health conditions,” 10 of the patients who were infected “have been discharged and are doing well,” Brunette said.
The outbreak was likely a result of a “decision to reduce water flow at the hospital during low-demand times,” Nasia Safdar, the medical director of infection control at UW Hospital, told the newspaper. Reducing the water flow can make it more “vulnerable to infectious bacteria,” she said.
The water flow has since been resuming normally and it has been chlorinated.
“Testing completed so far continues to show the expected reduction in the bacteria,” the spokeswoman told Fox News in the statement. “UW Health will continue intensive monitoring of its water system to ensure patient safety.”
Legionnaires disease is a “severe form of pneumonia,” according to the Mayo Clinic, which explains pneumonia is the inflammation of the lung that is typically caused by an infection.
“You can’t catch Legionnaires’ disease from person-to-person contact. Instead, most people get Legionnaires’ disease from inhaling the bacteria,” the Mayo Clinic states, noting that older adults, those who smoke or those with “weakened immune systems” are the most susceptible.
Legionella pneumophila, a bacterium, is usually the cause of the illness. It can be found in soil and water, but more commonly causes infection when it multiplies in water systems, such as hot tubs and air conditioners.