UW Hospital patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease dies, 5th patient being treated

UW Hospital patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease dies, 5th patient being treated

A patient at University of Wisconsin Hospital who had developed Legionnaires’ disease due to a suspected issue with the hospital’s hot water system has died, according to officials with UW Health.

“The seriously ill patient who had also tested positive for Legionella passed away,” UW Health spokesperson Lisa Brunette said. “The patient was in the hospital for multiple and severe health problems and the death was not unexpected.”

Also on Thursday, the hospital announced that there is now a fifth person who has developed the disease and has begun treatment with antibiotics.

A patient who tested positive for Legionella bacteria is also being treated by SSM Health.

“This patient contracted the bacteria out in the community,” said Lisa Adams, spokesperson for SSM Health. “This patient did not contract the bacteria in a healthcare setting.”

The state Department of Health Services said there were 11 cases of Leginnaires’ disease, both confirmed and suspected, reported this week. Officials with Meriter Hospital confirmed they are not treating any patients for the disease at this time.

On Wednesday, UW Hospital officials said three formerly hospitalized patients and one inpatient had developed Legionnaires’ disease, also called legionellosis, a type of pneumonia. The hospital is taking measures to address the suspected risk to patients associated with the hospital’s hot water system.

The hospital implemented a “hyperchlorination” process to flush all hot water lines in the building to eliminate any Legionella bacteria. The hospital has also notified affected patients and staff of the situation.

Legionnaires’ is caused by bacteria that are typically present at low concentrations in tap water. UW Hospital said it uses a water treatment system designed to keep levels low, but a “recent adjustment to that system may have compromised its function.”

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