Six new illnesses have been identified in the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at University Hospital in Madison, raising the case count to 11, according to UW Health officials. The outbreak was first reported on Nov. 28 when four cases of the deadly respiratory illness were confirmed. A fifth case and a fatality were announced the next day.
The new illnesses were not unexpected as officials expected the count to grow, due to the exposure window to Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Symptoms can present up to 14 days after exposure, and other patients could present symptoms up until Dec. 12, according to a hospital press release.
Four of the patients remain hospitalized, while six have been discharged or treated as outpatients. Their conditions are considered stable, and an antibiotic treatment protocol is working as expected.
One patient, who had been hospitalized with multiple, serious health problems, died last week. At the time of that pronouncement, Lisa Brunette, UW Health direction of media relations, said the “death was not unexpected.”
Hyperchlorination of the hospital’s hot water system has been successful in the reducing the bacteria, but monitoring at multiple sites within University Hospital is ongoing.
“We are confident the hyperchlorination worked as expected,” said John Marx, UW Health senior infection control practice specialist. “An aggressive program of monitoring and screening is in place to ensure the system is functioning as designed. Our commitment to the safety of our patients is unwavering.”
UW Health is working with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (DPH) on mitigation and testing efforts and have extended an invitation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asking them to act as an additional expert resource.
Incubation period still active
If you are a patient, visitor or employee of University Hospital and are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should see your health-care provider out of an abundance of caution.
By News Services on December 8, 2018