The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System says Legionella bacteria was found in the water supply at its Montgomery and Tuskegee facilities during routine water sample testing.
Legionella, which can be found naturally in water, can cause respiratory diseases like pneumonia. The bacteria are not transmitted from person-to-person or by drinking water. The ill, elderly, smokers and especially those with weakened immune systems are most at risk for Legionnaires' Disease.
"Most people whose systems are intact, who don't have immune compromised, other health issues, normally do not get problems with it. Legionella in a positive test for the water is not an issue if it's followed through as far as with a remediation plan," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary McIntyre.
Currently, no patients or staff have been identified as having any legionella-associated infections, but some patients were relocated from one medical room on the Montgomery campus and two mental health rooms on the Tuskegee campus out of precaution.
The rooms are being treated by elevating the water temperature to remove any trace of the bacteria.
CAVHCS is also thermally treating its water holding tanks to protect the facility's water system. More water samples will be taken early next week to make sure the Legionella is eliminated.
The Alabama Department of Public Health does not require legionella cases to be reported unless it infects a person, but health department officials say they have been in contact with the Central Alabama VA since they were alerted to the positive test.
CAVHCS physicians are monitoring the situation and say they believe the threat to veterans is no more significant than the threat to the general public. But any concerned veteran who was admitted to CAVHCS between January and July should contact their primary care team or 1-866-601-1079 for immediate assistance and evaluation.
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