CDC: Healthcare Facilities at Higher Risk for Legionnaires

06/22/2017 |

In 2015, there were approximately 6,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the U.S

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a landmark report in their monthly journal VitalsignsTM on the deadly risks associated with Legionnaires’ disease and the concerns specific to healthcare facilities on June 6, 2017.

In the report, it shows that people being treated at healthcare facilities are at higher risk of becoming infected with Legionnaires’ disease. It also provides examples for FMs of steps they can take to prevent infections.   

“Safe water is critical for the health and well-being of people everywhere,” says Stephen Anderson, vice president and general manager, Institutional, Nalco Water. “The release from the CDC further underscores the challenges companies face every day.  At Nalco Water, we understand the importance of Water Safety and continue to develop water management plans, training programs and offerings that help our customers and the public reduce the risks associated with Legionella.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • In 2015, there were approximately 6,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the U.S. 
  • The U.S. CDC reports that cases or outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease were associated with 72 unique healthcare facilities in the 21 jurisdictions analyzed (20 states and New York City) in 2015.
  • One in four people (25 percent) who contract Legionnaires’ disease from a healthcare facility will die. 
  • Healthcare facility leaders need to be aware that Legionnaires’ disease is a risk in their facility.
  • A water safety management program can reduce Legionella growth and spread in buildings.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) expects Medicare certified healthcare facilities to have water management policies and procedures to reduce the risk of growth and spread of Legionella and other opportunistic pathogens in building water systems.

People who are most susceptible to infection are those over the age of 50, current or former smokers and people with chronic disease or a weakened immune system.  The CDC highlighted that most issues that lead to U.S. healthcare-associated outbreaks could be prevented with an effective water safety management program.

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