Four cases of Legionella infection have recently been treated at Queen’s Medical Center.
Queen’s is working with the Hawaii Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the potential origins of the Legionella exposure, within and outside of the hospital.
Legionella is a type of bacteria found naturally in freshwater environments, such as lakes and streams. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made building water systems like sink faucets and showerheads.
Most people exposed to the bacteria do not become ill, but it is most likely to occur in those who have weakened immune systems. Legionella is not readily transmissible from person to person.
High-risk patients should avoid exposure to tap water in any form while at Queen’s as a preventative measure. The following measures have also been added to ensure the safety of the patients and staff:
>> Increased chlorination of water
>> Increased surveillance water cultures and testing in conjunction with DOH and water experts
>> Replacement of laminar flow devices on faucets
>> Scheduled running of showers and faucets as part of routine room cleaning
People who get sick after being exposed to Legionella can develop two different illnesses: Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever.
Legionnaires’ Disease has the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches. It can also be associated with other symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and confusion.
Symptoms usually begin 2 to 10 days, but can sometimes show up 2 weeks after exposure to the bacteria.
If you develop pneumonia symptoms, see a doctor right away.
Pontiac Fever symptoms are primarily fever and muscle aches, which begin between a few hours to 3 days after being exposed to the bacteria and usually last less than a week. It is a milder infection than Legionnaires’ disease.
For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html.