2020 October – Mornington Island Hospital (Queensland) – Legionella

Legionella found in North West Queensland hospitals water

Oct 9 2020


North West Health Service Acting Chief Executive, Dr Karen Murphy said while the majority of tests carried out for a number of organisms were all within standards, low levels of Legionella bacteria had been detected at McKinlay, Mornington Island, Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Burketown, Normanton, Dajarra, and Mount Isa health facilities.

The detections have been made in some patient areas, including shower heads and a drinking fountain, with all sources isolated until flushed and retested. Patients have been redirected to non-affected facilities until retesting concludes.

“It is not uncommon for Legionella to be detected in our facilities’ water samples from time to time as Legionella occurs naturally and is widely distributed in the environment,” Dr Murphy said.

“We believe this positive result in some taps may have been caused by stagnating water in areas that were used less due to COVID-19.”

Although Legionella can cause the severe pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ Disease or Legionellosis, Dr Murphy said a positive detection does not automatically equate to a health risk.

“The bacteria must be inhaled in the form of water droplets to have any chance of being infectious,” she said.

“Legionellosis is a very rare infection. These results allow us to carry out water quality maintenance to ensure that the risks to our patients remain low into the future.”

Dr Murphy said immediate action had been taken.

“The water supply systems in these areas will undergo a flushing program until retesting on October 13, and affected tapware will be replaced according to standard protocols for removing the Legionella bacteria,” she said.

“The affected areas will then be retested and will not be returned to use until testing has shown the Legionella bacteria have been cleared.

“We will also increase our scheduled flushing in these areas to accommodate for periods of no use, such as the weekend.”