, PA — VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System operates a comprehensive legionella prevention, detection and remediation program. Over the last month, during routine water testing we observed an unusual increase in water samples returning positive for legionella bacteria.
On Jan. 6, samples from five sinks in a vacant administrative unit under renovation returned positive, and on Jan. 15, samples from two adjacent sinks returned positive. On Jan. 25, samples from two sinks in an outpatient clinic and one sample from a supply line returned positive, and on Jan. 27, two additional samples from another supply line returned positive.
As test results became known to us, we immediately sanitized fixtures, and expediently initiated chlorine-based and thermal eradication efforts as our engineers determined appropriate.
At this time, there are no cases of hospital acquired Legionnaire’s Disease.
The health and safety of our Veterans, employees and visitors is our top priority. As such, the detection of legionella bacteria and remediation activities made it necessary for us to implement water restrictions affecting many areas throughout Building 1 at our University Drive campus. The restrictions include no use of the facility water supply for ice, drinking, hand-washing, and showering or bathing. We deployed hand-washing stations, and supplied areas with bagged ice and bottled water.
We notified employees and patients, and infection prevention staff also visited affected areas to provide more information and answer questions.
Our actions have been and continue to be executed in strict accordance with our local policy, VHA directive and CDC guidelines. You can read our test results and learn more about our program.
Out of an abundance of caution, we are extending water restrictions for at least the next 14 days as we complete remediation, and await subsequent water test results to ensure eradication of the bacteria was successful.
Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease when an individual breathes in small droplets (mist or vapor) of water contaminated with the bacteria. The disease is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person or another.