The number of confirmed new cases of severe exposure to the Legionella bacteria in a public hospital in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, increased to four and now total 16, but no new deaths have been reported.
On Monday, the Health Department said that none of the patients was yet dead, nor were any of the 16 new cases serious. One patient from the same emergency department died, July 29, 2016, from Legionnaires’ disease.
The deaths and new cases come after Victoria Hospital in St. John’s was shut down early last week when tests detected high levels of the bacteria in a tube used for drying air conditioning. Hospital officials used ventilators to cool an additional 300 rooms, evacuating more than 700 patients on Monday evening after officials initially assumed the burst was confined to the ventilation room. When tests confirmed it was Legionella, doctors and nurses were forced to use masks, and other precautions.
The hospital, which serves a population of around 100,000, reopened on Tuesday after testing showed the extent of contamination. While onsite test results are not yet available, officials maintain that the hospital’s air conditioning system, which has been replaced since the incident, is now in good health.
“The entire health region, both public and private, is in receipt of information on this issue,” Seamus O’Regan, the health minister, told the Canadian Press on Monday. “It’s a complex set of systems and procedures that we’re working through.”
The h-2 automated air conditioner was one of a dozen at the hospital, with several having already been replaced in recent months as part of renovations of the facility. In May, a similar outbreak at a hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, prompted measures such as changes to the cooling system and bags for staff to wear if they enter patient rooms.
Read the full story at The Atlantic.
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