Legionella bacteria found at McGuire VA Medical Center

Updated: Nov. 7, 2019 at 5:58 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - More legionella bacteria was found in the Richmond area, this time at the McGuire VA Medical Center.

In a statement from hospital officials, they say that as part of their quarterly water testing:

“The positive result came from a separate water system used for the facility cooling towers, which are located away from the clinical areas.”

The statement goes on to say that the hospital does have a prevention team that is prepared to tackle situations like this.

“In this particular case, this was a sample from August that ended up being positive for legionella. [The hospital] went ahead and did exactly what they were supposed to do, and abated the cooling tower,” said Dr. Danny Avula, the director of the Richmond and Henrico Health District.

Dr. Avula says the abatement process includes draining the waters system, cleaning out the bacteria, and re-testing the infected equipment.

The doctor adds that finding the bacteria does happen more often than not, citing a recent “study done of almost 200 cooling towers across the United States and 84% of them tested positive for legionella. And then when they looked at the Southeast region of the country, 95% of them tested positive.”

He says that normally, the Health Department doesn’t get involved unless someone is infected, but that they do need to be made aware.

“In 2018, between Richmond and Henrico, we had a total of 13 cases of legionella. This year, so far, we have a total of 10 cases. None of that have been connected to any known environmental exposure.”

McGuire VA Medical Center’s full statement can be found below:

"VA takes legionella prevention very seriously and VA directives on legionella are among the most stringent in the country.

At the Central Virginia VA Health Care System, we have an extensive monitoring program that assesses water quality on a quarterly basis. We have a robust prevention team that is prepared to remediate when necessary and protect both staff and patients.

As part of our quarterly water testing process, we sampled water from all clinical locations on campus and found zero samples that tested positive for the legionella. The positive result came from a separate water system used for the facility cooling towers, which are located away from clinical areas. The remediation process began immediately and was successful.

Positive tests for legionella bacteria are not an uncommon occurrence at hospitals. No patients or employees at Central Virginia VA HCS have developed Legionnaire’s Disease at the facility.

This occurrence does not constitute a risk to patients or employees."

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