VA University Drive faces 2 more weeks of water restrictions
Water restrictions will remain in place for two more weeks at the VA University Drive hospital campus in Oakland because of last week's discovery that the water system caused an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease, officials said Monday.
Doctors diagnosed four patients with the potentially fatal respiratory disease, and the 146-bed hospital remains on alert for more cases. The four patients recovered and were discharged.
The restrictions, which have been in place since Friday, include using water buffaloes for cooking and cleaning and using hand sanitizers instead of soap and water for hand-washing. Patients, visitors and employees have been instructed not to drink water, and officials have brought in bottled water as well as bagged water to be used for patients' baths.
Officials are looking to install shower heads that will filter contaminants and bring hand-pumping stations for hand washing, said Dave Cowgill, spokesman for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.
The Legionella bacteria, which causes the disease, tends to survive within waterlines and moist air-conditioning systems. It is contracted by inhaling contaminated water but not person-to-person.
“We have completed cleaning the system with hyperchlorinization and flushing,” Cowgill said in an email. “The water system was never shut off. However, to ensure the safety of our water supply, it will take up to two weeks to confirm that repeat environmental samples are negative.”
It can take up to two weeks for Legionella cultures to grow, and officials want to leave the measures in place for that period while they analyze test samples, he said.
Cowgill said the restrictions have not interfered with use of toilets at the facility. Although officials restricted water use, doctors continue to perform surgeries. Operating room workers are using a special supply of distilled water during and after surgical procedures.
The hospital previously used a copper-silver ionization method to disinfect its water distribution system and fight Legionella. Officials switched to a chlorination system last week and have flushed the system.
Most people exposed to Legionella do not become ill. Elderly people, smokers and those with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems are more vulnerable and can develop symptoms such as high fever, chills and cough.
Up to 18,000 people are hospitalized every year with the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Luis Fábregas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7998 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Foreign influx in Allegheny County at ‘tipping point’
- Squirrel Hill Tunnel workers cope with speeders, exhaust fumes
- Sewickley man dies in Route 28 motorcycle accident
- Emails show Allegheny County Council staff investigated potential snooping
- Generations of Steelers fans flock to practice on Unity campus
- West Allegheny School District scraps landfill tax over legal questions
- Report blames pilot for 2011 Hawaii crash that killed Pittsburgh couple
- Pennsylvania Resources Council puts hazardous materials in their place
- Fire at Indiana County lumber yard appears accidental; loss set at $350K
- Banksville Road to reopen to traffic
- Portion of Saw Mill Run closed after wreck