Water at Erie Shriners Hospital Tested for Legionnaires' Disease

June 17, 2003

Health officials were testing water samples from Erie Shriners Hospital for Children because a hospital security guard who died June 6 tested positive for Legionnaires' disease. No other patients have contracted the disease, nor have any staff. Results of the hospital water tests are expected within a week.

Erie County Department of Health Officials aren't identifying the guard and said they haven't even confirmed that he contracted the disease at the hospital. Officials said they're also testing the water at another location the guard visited that they wouldn't identify.

The hospital remained open Tuesday and patients were not at risk, said Dr. Sandra Fortna, the hospital's director of infection control. If the bacteria is found at the hospital, it can likely be remedied by treating the tainted water source, which would not require the hospital to close, county health officials said.

Six to eight employees who complained of respiratory problems shortly after the guard's death were tested and none were found to have Legionnaires' disease, county health officials said. The disease is not spread by personal contact, only through tainted water supplies.

The pneumonia-like disease is so-named because it was first reported at an American Legion convention in 1976 when it made 182 people ill in Philadelphia. It is caused by a bacteria commonly found in plumbing, shower heads and water storage tanks and is fatal in about 10 percent of those who get it.

Source: Pennlive.com, AP

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