Dangerous bacteria found at hospital

extreme close-ups of legionella bacteria for Insight story.
extreme close-ups of legionella bacteria for Insight story. UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience

LEGIONELLA has been found in yet another Far Northern health facility, a month after the dangerous bacteria was detected in a Torres Strait medical centre.

The Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service confirmed yesterday that legionella bacteria had been detected in a sink tap in the dental room at Bamaga Hospital.

It is the fourth time this year the bacteria has been identified in one of the health service's facilities, after positive results for legionella were found in non-patient areas at Bamaga, Cooktown and Thursday Island Hospital.

Kim Veiwasenavanua from the Torres and Cape HHS said the affected tap and sink at Bamaga Hospital had been isolated, would be flushed and cleaned.

"The tapware also will be replaced according to standard protocols for removing the legionella bacteria," she said.

"The affected area will then be retested and will not be returned to use until testing has shown the legionella bacteria have been cleared."

Extreme close-ups of legionella bacteria.
Extreme close-ups of legionella bacteria.

She said Thursday Island's Community Wellness Centre had been cleared of legionella bacteria, after it was detected there last month.

She said Thursday Island Hospital itself, along with the Cooktown Multipurpose Health Service and Weipa Integrated Health Service all had testing finalised with clear results for the quarter.

The Torres and Cape HHS undertakes routine water quality testing at all its inpatient facilities every three months.


Legionella bacteria are commonly found in the environment, and can cause Legionnaire's Disease.

The disease can cause chest infection symptoms, with high fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

The risks for staff, patients and visitors to medical facilities are low as the legionella bacteria must be inhaled in the form of water droplets to have any chance of being infectious.

It is generally only those people that are particularly vulnerable, sick or immune-compromised who are susceptible to infection.

Topics:  editors picks legionella

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