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CDC Releases Report On Pittsburgh VA Legionnaire’s Outbreak

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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CBS Pittsburgh (con't)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the investigation moves forward into the outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at Pittsburgh Veteran’s Hospital facilities, more and more emphasis will be placed on a 56-page assessment from the Centers for Disease Control.

Last week’s Congressional hearing for the Veterans Administration was contentious at times – in part because a CDC report released to a subcommittee looked closely at potential causes of the outbreak.

For example: a pyramid-like outdoor fountain in front of the main building near a busy entrance where buses taxis and cars drop off passengers attracted the attention of the CDC. The report says a sample from the sand filter of the fountain showed growth of the outbreak strain and concluded the fountain couldn’t be ruled out as a potential source in some cases.

At last week’s hearing, Dr. Lauri Hicks from the CDC also revealed that recent construction at the VA Pittsburgh facilities could have been a factor as well.

“Construction on hospital campus likely reduced incoming chlorine in the water thus promoting legionella growth,” she said then.

The report concludes that the timing of construction work coincided with the outbreak and likely introduced organic matter into the water system.

Those were just two of many possible causes – all the while the VA hoping to assure the public as well as the families of those who died.

  • Adam Smeltz from the Tribune Review talks about the Legionella outbreak on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA:

At the hearing, Dr. Robert Jesse, Deputy Undersecretary for Heath of the Veterans Administration said, “We express our deepest regrets to the affected patients and we pledge that we will do whatever is necessary to implement corrective actions that might prevent this from ever happening again.”

Congress wants an update from the VA next month.

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