Legionella at Ipswich Hospital of 'no threat to patients'

IPSWICH Hospital has detected traces of legionnaire's disease only a month after tests gave the facility the all-clear.

Low levels of the bacteria were found in two showers when testing for the disease was expanded after a patient at the Wesley Hospital died from legionnaire's disease.

Ipswich Hospital was one of four Queensland Health hospitals where traces of the disease were found.

Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Stephen Lambert said disinfecting or flushing of affected sites, was either planned, under way or completed where infections had been detected to date.

No patients have contracted legionnaire's disease at Ipswich Hospital. West Moreton Hospital and Health Service chief executive Lesley Dwyer said the traces of bacteria were found in rarely used showers.

"In line with the directive from the Director-General, our testing regime was expanded. These results have come from samples taken from two showers that are rarely used," she said.

Dr Lambert called for calm and patience as legionella test results from more than 300 hospitals statewide were being completed, analysed and collated.

"The handful of positive test results revealed to media over the weekend did not pose a risk to human health and the infected sites or source of infection are easily treated," he said.

Finalised test results for all hospitals will be completed on Friday.

Dr Lambert said Metro South, Gold Coast and Darling Downs Hospital and Health Services had to date reported low levels of legionella in a very small number of samples.

"We should not be speculating on interim low-level positive results until we know the full and final picture for each facility. Final results and treatment plans for any hospital which has returned a positive reading to date will be publicly available in our first weekly report on Friday."

Greenslopes Clinical School University of Queensland Professor Michael Whitby said the public should not be concerned by the test results.

He said legionella was always present in the environment and often found in very low concentrations in water supplies.

Disease facts

  • Legionnaire's disease can occur if a person breathes in contaminated water vapour.
  • Legionnaire's disease can usually be cured by treatment with antibiotics.
  • It is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria of the legionella family.

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