Queensland Health is testing a Brisbane hospital's water supply after a patient reportedly tested positive for the deadly legionella pneumophila bacteria.
In 2013 the hospital was effectively shut down for about a fortnight after a patient died from the lung infection and a second patient contracted it. This was the first ever recorded hospital outbreak and The Wesley was forced to run at reduced capacity for a month. The response to the outbreak cost millions of dollars.
‘Legionnaires disease is back at one of Queensland’s leading hospitals, finding its way into an ice machine despite strict measures being put in place.’
It isn't clear whether the patient in the most recent case used the ice machine but traces of the disease haven't been found anywhere else at the facility.
UnitingCare Health chief operating officer Terence Seymour said that other patients in proximity are being closely monitored by their doctors.
"It is not clear if the patient located in the ward had accessed the ice machine, however this is being investigated," he said. "We are working closely with Queensland Health's Public Health Unit to identify the source of the contamination. This may take several weeks. Let me reassure all patients, their families and our staff that we continue to be very vigilant on water safety."
Legionella pneumophila thrive in warm water and in man-made environments such as inside plumbing fixtures and pipes. Patients with a chronic medical condition are at more risk than others. The bacteria was then found in the hospital's hot water system.
"As a precaution all ice machines have been disconnected, sterilised and all hoses and filters are being replaced," Mr Seymour said.