SAN ANTONIO - A Brooke Army Medical Center staff member was confirmed to have Legionella bacteria on Feb. 6, BAMC spokesman Robert Whetstone said Wednesday.
The staff member works in Building 15 and follows two previous cases reported in August.
Because there were two or more cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported at the same facility within 365 days, it was considered an outbreak, per the Emerging and Acute Infectious Disease Guidelines, Whetstone said in a statement.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia, or lung inflammation usually caused by infection, caused by exposure to the Legionella bacteria, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is very rare, with fewer than 20,000 cases reported in the U.S. per year.
“The health and safety of our patients and staff is our top priority, and we are working diligently with local and regional public health officials to investigate this matter,” Whetstone said. “We are not currently aware of any patients or clients who have moved through Building #15 who are exhibiting symptoms.”
Whetstone said testing is ongoing to determine if the building is the source of the bacteria. He said BAMC officials are relocating staff members who work in that building to another location.
The Mayo Clinic reports that Legionnaires' disease cannot be caught from person-to-person contact. Most people who become infected inhale mist or water vapor that contains the bacteria. The bacteria can contaminate hot water tanks, hot tubs and cooling towers of large air conditioners, and while it can occur any time of the year, it is more common in the summer and fall.
According to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a low risk of contracting Legionnaires' disease for most healthy people. Mayo Clinic officials report that older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires' disease.
Those experiencing symptoms (upper respiratory or flu-like) should contact their medical provider.
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