SPOKANE -- Recent tests have confirmed the presence of legionella bacteria in Sacred Heart Medical Center's water supply. Patients can not drink the water or even shower in it. Bottled water is being provided to drink.
KREM 2 News has been told legionella bacteria are common in a community water supply. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would not be surprised if half the buildings in Spokane have it. But health officials at Sacred Heart are working to get rid of the bacteria.
Hospital officials said they became concerned when they noticed the possibility of three cases of legionella disease the first three months of the year. They said that is unusual and they started investigating. The CDC got involved and on Wednesday the hospital received preliminary results of the findings. It indicated the presence of legionella.
The bacteria can pose potential risks to individuals with weakened immune systems or other health complications. It can cause a form of pneumonia. Health officials said people get infected by breathing mist or water vapor that has elevated levels of the bacteria.
The hospital is cleaning and servicing all its water tanks. In the mean time, it is restricting showering for all patients for up to one week until follow-up testing shows there is no longer any bacteria present. The hospital has also provided bottled water for all patients. The staff has recommended all patients, employees and guests use alcohol gel to wash their hands.
Two of the patients possibly infected with the disease have recovered. The other died but it is under investigation if medical complications played a role.
Watch KREM 2 News at 5 for a live report.