Iowa City VA says Legionella bacteria not harming patients - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City VA says Legionella bacteria not harming patients

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - When you take your loved one to the hospital, you want them to get better which is why it may be scary for some to learn Legionella bacteria -- which causes Legionairres' Disease -- has been found in the water system at the VA in Iowa City.

"When it's detected at very low levels, the risk to the patient is very low," said Stacey Klutts, Staff Pathologist. "What we're wanting to do is prevent situations where there would be a lot of this bacteria."

Legionairres' is a form of pneumonia which can be deadly and people at a hospital are more at risk, which is why the hospital tests for the bacteria. The VA requires its facilities to do water testing once a quarter. In Iowa City, they do it once a month.

Not all hospitals do these tests because they are not required to.

"There are many private hospitals that don't aggressively look for this," said Klutts. "We put ourselves at a bit of a higher standard at the VA to make sure that we are able to detect potential issues and correct them before they become a problem."

The bacteria was only found in certain sinks or showers, not the entire water system. The levels were so low nobody has been at risk.

"If there would have been a perceived risk, we would have acted accordingly," said Klutts.

We checked with some other hospitals to see how often they test for that bacteria.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics says they are constantly checking.

St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids tests at least once a year, with some parts of the water system getting tested more often than that.

Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids does not test because no patient has ever gotten the disease from the hospital. They say water testing is not a CDC recommendation if they are not seeing hospital-acquired cases.

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