Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital are treating a patient they diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease, and officials are working to determine the source, which doesn’t immediately appear to be the facility’s water supply.
Legionnaire’s is a serious lung infection that comes from breathing small droplets of water containing bacteria found in building water systems. Most healthy people do not become sick when they are exposed, but infections can be particularly perilous in health care facilities because they can sicken and kill older people and those with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases.
Hopkins officials said testing found no bacteria in its water supplies where the patient is located, but out of “an abundance of caution” they have implemented water restrictions in clinical areas of one building for those with compromised immune systems “until the situation is resolved.”
Officials said in a statement, “On a daily basis, our clinical teams at The Johns Hopkins Hospital care for patients with a wide range of infectious diseases. Our staff members are well-trained and well-prepared to detect and manage all types of infections.”
There were 361 cases of Legionnaire’s reported to the Maryland Department of Health in 2018. There are thousands of cases nationally every year.
Hopkins reported the infection to city and state health departments, and epidemiologists at Hopkins are working with the public health agencies to determine the source of the bacteria.