Chronicling the Prevention of Healthcare-acquired Legionnaires Disease

NEW YORK -- The American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) announces publication of a sentinel article on a proactive approach to the prevention of healthcare-acquired Legionnaires disease. This publication comes at a time of great relevance to U.S. hospitals, particularly those in New York City, where cases of healthcare-acquired Legionnaires disease recently made headlines after Legionnaires disease resulted from exposure to Legionella bacteria in the water system of two New York City hospitals.  


As noted by Victor Yu, MD, an expert on Legionnaires disease and one of the authors of the article, The mortality of Legionnaires disease in hospitals can be as high as 40 percent, but the disease is preventable. The AJIC journal article, titled A Proactive Approach to the Prevention of Healthcare-Acquired Legionnaires Disease: The Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) Experience, documents how healthcare-acquired Legionnaires disease was prevented by following the guidelines formulated by the Allegheny County Health Department in Pittsburgh. The article demonstrates that healthcare-acquired Legionnaires disease is now rare in Pittsburgh after all hospitals began to test their water systems for Legionella bacteria and to disinfect the water systems if necessary.


Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York Department of Health test hospital water for Legionella only after one or two cases of Legionnaires disease have been discovered, states Yu. The alternative proactive approach presented in article, and has been adopted in Pittsburgh, Maryland, and several European countries, has proven effective in the prevention of Legionella  as documented in the article, says Yu.  


This is an important article, one that should serve as a guide to other hospitals and save patients lives, states AJIC editor Elaine Larson, RN, PhD, FAAN. 


AJIC is the official journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), a multi-disciplinary voluntary international health organization with more than 10,000 members whose primary responsibility is infection prevention and control and epidemiology.


Source: APIC