Officials confirm 1 person died from Legionnaires' outbreak at VA hospital



PITTSBURGH - A Legionnaires’ disease patient treated at the VA Pittsburgh Health System has died, the Allegheny County Health Department reported late Friday.

It appears the patient was one of five identified in a Legionnaires’ outbreak inside the University Drive Campus in Oakland, said Dr. Ron Voorhees, the acting county health director.

Under federal privacy laws, Voorhees could not release the patient’s identity or time of death, he said.

VA spokesman David Cowgill declined to comment, citing patient-privacy laws. The state Department of Health could not be reached.

Four others who contracted Legionnaires’ — a form of pneumonia — were successfully treated and released in the outbreak, according to earlier reports from the VA. It announced the problem Nov. 16 at the University Drive Campus.

In a statement Friday, the VA acknowledged the cases developed inside the hospital.

A water-treatment system meant to prevent Legionella bacteria there “may not be as effective as previously thought, as is the case in other health systems using this method” to combat Legionella, Cowgill wrote in an email message Nov. 16.

He said the University Drive facility would shift from that treatment system — a copper-silver ionization setup — to a chlorination system.

Earlier Friday, the VA announced it had just lifted water-use restrictions at the University Drive Campus.

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

Previous Story:  Pa. hospital IDs 5th case of Legionnaire's disease