A patient at University Hospitals in Iowa City recently developed a case of the potential killer Legionnaires’ disease — and has recovered. New precautions are in place in that section of the hospital until the investigation is complete. Dr. Charles Helms is chief of staff at the medical center and says the patient may have come in with the disease. Helms says they’re assuming the worst-case scenario — that the patient acquired Legionnaires’ at the hospital. Legionnaire’s is usually associated with water and Helms says they’ve isolated the bacteria to a patient’s in-room shower. He says U-of-I hospital officials took immediate action upon learning the disease had appeared there.The unit where the bacteria was found had recently reopened after being closed for several months. Staff were notified December 22nd that water from a shower on the fourth floor of the Roy Carver Pavilion grew the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’. Helms says water use in that area is now tightly guarded. Patients, staff and visitors in that area of the hospital are -not- to drink tap water and patients are not to use the showers. Helms says the precautions will continue until the hospital can determine the extent of bacteria growth. The first known outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease was in 1976 at a convention for military service personnel in Philadelphia. More than 220 people contracted the disease and 34 of them died. Most of those who died were members of the American Legion — that’s how the disease got its name.
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