By Katie Brace

BOSTON (CBS) – A patient treated at three Boston-area VA hospitals has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.

Officials say they are not certain where the patient was infected. The VA hospital says they are retracing the patient’s movements to find the source of the infection.

The patient was treated at facilities in Jamaica Plain, Brockton and West Roxbury. Officials are now testing the water at all three hospitals for bacteria. It could take up to two weeks to get those test results back

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia that can be deadly. You can’t catch Legionnaires’ from person-to-person contact. People usually become sick after inhaling the bacteria. It is spread through contaminated water vapor like hot tubs, air conditioners, and misters.

“We don’t anticipate any large scale problems,” said Dr. Katherine Linsenmeyer, associate hospital epidemiologist at VA Boston.

Recently other non-related Legionnaires’ cases have grabbed attention. On Friday, three people at a Rhode Island nursing home came down with the illness.

In August in Hampton Beach, 18 people were sickened and one person died. The bacterium that causes the disease was traced to a motel hot tub.

When asked why we are hearing more about the disease, Dr. David Hooper, Chief of Mass General Hospital’s Infection Control Unit said, “Well, it’s hard to know it can occur sporadically.”

Hooper went on to say, “There have been associations with sort of different climate conditions when there seems to be more Legionnaires’ cases.”

Those who are already fighting an illness are more at risk.

“It is more frequent in patients who have underlying immune compromising conditions or who have chronic respiratory disease,” said Dr. Hooper.

The VA says it does quarterly water testing and meets industry standards.

Katie Brace

  1. Sarah Dunbar says:

    All healthcare organizations should demonstrate compliance, suitable governance, competency of those involved and finally the accountability arrangements are in place for the delivery of safe water.

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