Paper: Legionella found repeatedly before outbreak

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Documents show the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease was repeatedly found at a Pittsburgh VA hospital in the five years before a fatal outbreak.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports tests found Legionella bacteria on faucets, shower heads and water fountains at the hospital in Oakland on seven occasions between September 2007 and November 2011. The newspaper cited documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Legionnaires’ outbreak sickened as many as 21 and was linked to five deaths from February 2011 to November 2012.

The newspaper (http://bit.ly/167GyTS ) reports 17 of 19 samples taken in 2007 were positive for Legionella.

A VA official told lawmakers in February the hospital often flushed Legionella over the last decade but took a more aggressive stance in 2011.

A spokesman for the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press late Saturday.

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Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com

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