2 may have died from bacteria found in Indianapolis hospital’s water

(WISH photo/Doug Moon)
(WISH photo/Doug Moon)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) – Two patients at IU Health have died, and officials say it’s most likely because of an unusual organism they’ve now found in University Hospital’s water supply.

But they say the first patient who died arrived at the hospital with legionella already. She had a compromised immune system and did not respond to treatment.

A second person died from the disease shortly after. That patient came in to the hospital and later developed legionella.

Because the woman came into the hospital with the sickness, hospital officials wanted to make sure she didn’t get it from the hospital.

Hospital officials had already started an investigation to see if it was in their water supply. They say they routinely treat their water with a biocide to make sure their water is safe.

After these two deaths, they also heated the water throughout the hospital to 190-degrees and flushed all the pipes and showerheads.

Doctors say there is no reason for visitors to be concerned. People are exposed to the bacteria frequently and really only have issues if they have a compromised immune system.

“If you visited the hospital or even if you were a patient in the hospital recently you have essentially very little chance of being exposed or infected with legionella,” said Dr. Doug Webb, medical director for Infection Control with IU Health.

Officials don’t yet know how the organism got into their water supply, but say it’s not uncommon in older buildings.

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