Legionella bacteria detected at IU Health University Hospital

2 die after Legionella pneumonia diagnosis

INDIANAPOLIS - Officials with Indiana University Health confirmed on Tuesday that Legionella bacteria was detected at University Hospital.

IU Health officials said two critically ill patients died after they were diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia within the past few weeks.

The cause of death hasn’t been determined in both cases, but Legionella may have been a factor in one case, officials said.

IU officials said they took immediate steps to isolate the issue and are thoroughly treating the hospital’s water system.

"Legionella are very common, naturally occurring bacteria that live in soil and water. People typically contract the bacteria by breathing in contaminated water droplets, such as shower mist. Estimates suggest that Legionella bacteria acquired within the community are responsible for 1 to 5 percent of pneumonia hospitalizations. Healthy people exposed to Legionella rarely become sick. Those with weakened immune systems or underlying lung disease are most at risk. Legionella cannot be passed from person to person," Dr. Doug Webb, IU Health Medical Director for Infection Control, said in a statement.

Experts said the Legionella infection is generally treatable. Officials have seen no additional cases and they don’t believe any other patients, visitors or team members are at risk.

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