Water at a VA Boston Healthcare System hospital in West Roxbury tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease, officials announced Tuesday, more than a week after a patient was diagnosed with the disease.
Low levels of Legionnaires’ were found at three locations in the facility. All fixtures at the hospital were removed for further testing, and the source of the disease was eliminated, the VA said in a statement.
Two other VA hospitals in Brockton and Jamaica Plain tested negative for Legionnaires’, the statement said.
The patient, who had been treated at all three Boston VA hospitals, is believed to have contracted the disease from the West Roxbury facility’s cooling tower, where a bacterial culture, drawn Aug. 20, tested positive for “the patient’s bacteria level,” officials said.
Infrequent transmission of the disease has previously been reported between the tower and the hospital’s smoking shack, officials said.
Legionnaires’ is contracted by “inhaling water droplets or mist of water contaminated with the bacteria,” the VA Boston said. It is not spread person to person. While most patients with healthy immune systems who encounter the bacteria do not get sick, elderly people and patients with compromised immune systems can develop symptoms similar to pneumonia.
From June to August, 14 people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ in New Hampshire. The cases were tied to an outbreak in Hampton.
Three cases were also confirmed at a Providence, R.I. nursing home on Sept. 21, the Associated Press reported.