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Health, Science & Tech

Legionella Detected at UPMC Presbyterian; No Patients Sickened

Eleven patients from a unit at UPMC Presbyterian were moved to other parts of the hospital following the detection of legionella in several sinks in a recently-remodeled area.

There are no confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, but UPMC spokeswoman Wendy Zellner said the patients were moved as a precautionary measure.

“We are following our normal Legionella monitoring and prevention protocols and expect the unit to reopen soon after proper remediation measures are taken,” Zellner said in a statement.

The statement goes on to say that it is not uncommon for Legionella bacteria to appear in water sources in hospitals or any other facility.

“I’d really stress what our chief quality officer said,” said Zellner, “if a hospital aggressively monitors and looks for Legionella, it will find it. What’s important is that it be remediated, and that’s what we’re doing.”

The Legionella was found in the pulmonary medicine unit, UPMC has reported the findings to the Allegheny County Health Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Legionella is typically found in areas of warm water including hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems and decorative fountains. Legionnaires' disease is spread through breathing in mist or water vapor contaminated with the bacteria; it cannot be transmitted person to person. Symptoms are flu-like and signs of the disease can be seen two to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria.