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If you or a family member are involved in this outbreak at The Queen’s Medical Center, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation, or complete the following:

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed three additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, and said one of the four patients being treated for the disease died in May.

The news comes a week after the DOH announced that it was investigating an individual case of Legionnaires’ disease at the hospital.

The DOH is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to locate the source of the illness, both inside and outside the hospital.

Environmental samples were collected by the DOH from The Queen’s Medical Center (QMC) to see whether the hospital is the source of Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease.

The ages, gender and current conditions of the patients infected with Legionnaires’ was not released, although it has been confirmed that they are being treated at the hospital. It is believed that two cases were the result of community-acquired illnesses, and the other two were sickened by Legionella after being admitted.

The DOH is trying to determine if the cases are linked by a common source of infection.

Queen's Medical Center Legionnaires' outbreak: 4 cases, 1 death

The Hawaii State Department of Health has confirmed three additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, and said one of the four patients being treated for the disease died in May.

Queen’s Medical Center: measures taken

A spokesperson said the hospital is proactively asking all health-care providers to take precautions with patients who have the greatest risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

The hospital recommends that high-risk patients avoid exposure to tap water at the medical center. It also has advised patients to temporarily avoid the following, under state and federal guidelines:

  • drinking water from a fountain
  • using ice from the ice machine
  • taking showers
  • flushing toilets.

The QMC spokesperson said the hospital also has undertaken the following preventative measures to ensure the safety of its patients and staff:

  • increasing the chlorination of water
  • increasing the surveillance of water cultures and testing in conjunction with DOH and water experts
  • replacing laminar flow devices on faucets
  • scheduling the running of showers and faucets as part of routine room cleaning.

The DOH said six of the eight confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ in Oahu this year were residents of the island.

Residents or visitors to the QMC – or the island of Oahu in general – and are exhibiting pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms should seek immediate medical attention from their health-care provider.

Queen’s Medical Center: Legionnaires’ information

Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory illness caused by Legionella bacteria that can result in death. It is also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia.

The CDC estimates that there are 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) on a yearly basis in the United States. Only 5,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported, however, because of its nonspecific signs and symptoms.

According to the CDC, one in 10 patients infected with Legionnaires’ will die from the disease.

Contracting Legionella
Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets, usually mist or vapor. Legionella grow best in warm water, and are found primarily in human-made environments.

Anyone can become ill after contracting Legionella, but people most susceptible to infection include:

  • people 50 or older
  • smokers, current and former
  • heavy drinkers of alcohol
  • people with chronic lung disease
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • organ-transplant recipients
  • people on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, for example).

Legionnaires’ symptoms
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those of other types of pneumonia. They can even resemble flu symptoms, which is why Legionnaires’ disease often goes under-reported.

Symptoms generally include:

  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • muscle aches and pains
  • severe headaches
  • gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).

Legionella sources
Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks have been linked to a number of sources, such as:

  • water systems, like those used in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • showers and faucets
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • mist machines
  • hand-held sprayers
  • ice machines
  • swimming pools
  • decorative fountains
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • large plumbing systems
  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems.