'Deadly' bacteria found in pipes at Southern Downs hospitals
OUTBREAKS of potentially deadly legionella bacteria have declined substantially after a Queensland Health crackdown, but positive detections have still been found in some Southern Downs hospitals.
Most recent data obtained by the Warwick Daily News reveals legionella was detected in water sources at the Stanthorpe Hospital and Inglewood Hospital.
The naturally-occurring bacteria can cause illness, including Legionnaires' disease when it spreads in plumbing networks.
Darling Downs Public Health unit director Dr Penny Hutchinson said there had been no cases of hospital-acquired legionella infections in any Southern Downs facilities.
"The latest round of testing has demonstrated a reduction in the number of detections,” Dr Hutchinson said.
In the fourth quarter of last year there were 12 detections of legionella reported at Inglewood Hospital, which has since reduced to one.
Two detections were found at the Stanthorpe Hospital recently, which is down from the five reported cases found in the third quarter of 2017.
At Warwick Hospital, the number of detections reduced from one to none.
Queensland Health undertakes mandatory quarterly testing and reporting on water sources and quality at all facilities.
"After each detection, there is an assessment carried out to determine the level of infection risk to patients and appropriate actions are carried out to reduce this risk,” Dr Hutchinson said.
"These actions may include the use of a portable water chlorinator; flushing water through pipes; increasing the temperature of the water to 'scald' pipes to kill the bacteria; replacing shower heads and/or fittings and subsequent retesting.”
Dr Hutchinson said legionella referred to a common series of bacteria that were widely distributed in the environment.