Legionella finds in hospitals to be made public

QUEENSLANDERS will be able to see if their local hospital has uncovered Legionella bacteria when test results are published publicly from this month.

The move follows two patients at Brisbane's Wesley Hospital contracting Legionnaire's Disease from the facility.

One man, a 66 year old cancer patient, died and another woman was placed in intensive care.

It was revealed only this week a patient at the same hospital contracted the disease in 2011 and died.

Queensland Health is conducting an investigation into the hospital's management of the outbreak and guidelines surrounding routine testing for Legionella in Queensland hospitals.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg asked all public and private hospitals to carry out testing for Legionella bacteria following the human diagnoses.

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young revealed earlier this week some hospitals had returned positive tests to the bacteria - which she said was ubiquitous - but confirmed those results would only be made public in a September report.

In a change of tune, Mr Springborg announced Legionella water testing results would be published by the end of next week.

Mr Springborg said Legionella was ever-present in the environment and was often found in very low concentrations in potable water supplies, and detecting Legionella in a hospital water supply did not automatically equate to a human health risk.

"In fact, scrutiny of surveillance data going back to 2001 has not revealed hospital-acquired Legionella cases beyond those documented yesterday by the Chief Health Officer and set to be examined as part of her forthcoming inquiry," he said.

Interim guidelines on dealing with Legionella bacteria have been implemented until Dr Young delivers her report and recommendations later this year.

Mr Springborg said results of water tests would be released on a weekly basis until all results had been reported.

He said Dr Young had written to all public and private hospitals requesting their agreement to release the results publicly.



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