Bacteria detected in water at St George Hospital
PATIENTS at St George Hospital were unable to shower last week after the water facilities were contaminated with bacteria.
A positive Legionella detection was found in affected locations including patient shower areas and taps.
The risks for staff, patients and visitors are low as Legionella bacteria must be inhaled in the form of water droplets to have any chance of being infectious.
Although a positive detection does not automatically equate to a health risk, Darling Downs Public Health Unit Director Dr Penny Hutchinson said it needed to be managed.
"Clinical services at St George Hospital have not been affected in any way, but we temporarily restricted showers for patients who sponge-bathed instead,” she said. "The South West Hospital and Health service undertakes routine water quality testing at all its inpatient and residential aged care facilities every three months.
"We have a team currently at St George replacing affected showerheads and taps, as part of our standard procedure, with a special temporary micro filter which filters out all the bacteria.”
Showers were back in service by the evening on June 11.
The issue for many of the rural health facilities in the south-west is that town water supplies are sourced from hot bore water, which is then passed through tanks to cool before distribution.
It is the cooling process that provides a good environment in which the Legionella bacteria can establish and grow.
Dr Hutchinson said it was generally sick or immune-compromised people who were susceptible to infection.
"South West HHS is committed to the continuous improvement of water monitoring and is currently trialling new copper-silver ionisation technology used to disinfect water,” she said.
If the trial proves successful, it will be rolled out to all health facilities in the south-west.