The importance of clinical surveillance in detecting legionnaires' disease outbreaks: A large outbreak in a hospital with a legionella disinfection system - Pennsylvania, 2011-2012

Alicia Demirjian, Claressa E. Lucas, Laurel E. Garrison, Natalia A. Kozak-Muiznieks, Stanley States, Ellen W. Brown, Jonathan M. Wortham, Amanda Beaudoin, Megan L. Casey, Chandra Marriott, Alison M. Ludwig, Ali F. Sonel, Robert R. Muder, Lauri A. Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Healthcare-associated Legionnaires' disease (LD) is a preventable pneumonia with a 30% case fatality rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend a high index of suspicion for the diagnosis of healthcare-associated LD.We characterized an outbreak and evaluated contributing factors in a hospital using copper-silver ionization for prevention of Legionella growth in water. Methods: Through medical records review at a large, urban tertiary care hospital in November 2012, we identified patients diagnosed with LD during 2011-2012. Laboratory-confirmed cases were categorized as definite, probable, and not healthcare associated based on time spent in the hospital during the incubation period.We performed an environmental assessment of the hospital, including collection of samples for Legionella culture. Clinical and environmental isolates were compared by genotyping. Copper and silver ion concentrations were measured in 11 water samples. Results: We identified 5 definite and 17 probable healthcare-associated LD cases; 6 case patients died. Of 25 locations (mostly potable water) where environmental samples were obtained for Legionella-specific culture, all but 2 showed Legionella growth; 11 isolates were identical to 3 clinical isolates by sequence-based typing. Mean copper and silver concentrations were at or above the manufacturer's recommended target for Legionella control. Despite this, all samples where copper and silver concentrations were tested showed Legionella growth. Conclusions: This outbreak was linked to the hospital's potablewater systemand highlights the importance of maintaining a high index of suspicion for healthcare-associated LD, even in the setting of a long-term disinfection program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1596-1602
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume60
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Keywords

  • Legionella pneumophila
  • Legionnaires' disease
  • disinfectants
  • healthcare-acquired infection
  • infection control

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