Cleveland Clinic Mercy taking precautions after Legionella bacteria found in 2 patients

CANTON ‒ Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital is taking precautions after two patients tested positive for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease following hospital stays.

The hospital is working with Canton City Public Health to ensure the safety of the hospital’s water systems, according to a joint statement from the two entities.

It has not been confirmed where the Legionella bacteria exposures occurred, they said.

"This does not pose a risk to the community, and it does not affect the water supply of the City of Canton," the announcement said. "Legionella is a common bacteria found in the environment, and in water systems, especially hot water systems. Some species of Legionella bacteria can cause illness."

Hospital spokesman Joe Milicia said no one has died as a result of the bacteria.

What is Mercy Hospital doing about Legionella bacteria?

Mercy, the city health department and the Ohio Health Department are working through a response plan that began Feb. 7.

"The hospital is proactively treating the water system, installing filters on faucets and using bottled water where appropriate. The safety of caregivers and patients is Mercy’s top priority, and the hospital remains open for care," the joint press release said.

Samples have not indicated a detectable level of Legionella bacteria in the water system.

What is Legionnaires' disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People can get sick when they breathe in small droplets of water or accidentally swallow water containing the bacteria into the lungs.

The bacteria was named following an outbreak in Philadelphia in 1976 when many people who attended an American Legion convention got sick with pneumonia, the CDC said.

The agency said that local health departments reported nearly 10,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the U.S. in 2018, but that the number could be higher because of underreporting. About 1 in 10 people who contract Legionnaires' disease die from the infection, the CDC says.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet by Rick Armon on Scribd

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Legionella bacteria found in Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital patients