MEDIC: Judith Henning with new Cunnamulla nurse Craig Egan.
MEDIC: Judith Henning with new Cunnamulla nurse Craig Egan.

Cunnamulla hospital is legionella free

CUNNAMULLA Hospital has been cleared of Legionella bacteria following chlorination of the water system and retesting of two affected showerheads and three taps.

Darling Downs Public Health Unit Director Dr Penny Hutchinson said clinical services at Cunnamulla had not been affected by the discovery of Legionella bacteria earlier this month and no patients or staff had been at risk.

“Immediate and appropriate action was taken by the hospital in accordance with the South West Hospital and Health Service’s Water Quality Risk Management Plan as soon as the positive results were received,’’ she said.

“The results of retesting of the water supply which were received on 20 July show the bacteria have now been cleared.

“However, the hospital will continue to monitor the situation.’’

Dr Hutchinson said Legionella bacteria were commonly found in the environment.

“The risks for staff, patients and visitors are low as the Legionella bacteria must be inhaled in the form of water droplets to have any chance of being infectious,’’ she said.

“Secondly, it is generally only those people that are particularly vulnerable, sick or immune-compromised who are susceptible to infection.

“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 this cooling process that provides a good environment in which the Legionella bacteria can establish themselves and grow.

“In addition, bore water-sourced municipal supplies in many rural areas may not be chlorinated, which also provides opportunity for Legionella bacteria to establish themselves.’’

Dr Hutchinson said the water quality at South West HHS inpatient facilities was tested routinely every three months.


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