Two catch Legionnaire’s disease at hospital attacked over hygiene

Two patients have contracted Legionnaire’s disease at a hospital recently condemned for poor hygiene, blood splattered equipment and an unusually high death rate among patients.

Both adults were at Basildon University Hospital in Essex when they began to show signs they were affected by the bacteria legionella.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the patients, who were staying in different parts of the hospital, have responded to antibiotic treatment but one of them is still in a critical condition.

The bacteria is commonly found in sources of water such as rivers and lakes but can sometimes find their way into artificial water supply systems.

Alan Whittle, Chief Executive at the Basildon and Thurrock NHS Foundation Trust, said the hospital was the probable source of the infections, based on tests of water samples. No more suspected cases have been identified.

“Experts agree that the legionella bacteria is a common risk in large buildings with an extensive plumbing system,” Mr Whittle said.

“Based on the results of laboratory tests of water samples, we accept that the hospital is the probable source of the infection, despite our determined efforts to minimise the known risks of legionella.

In November, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission criticised Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after they found blood stains on floors and curtains, blood splattered on trays used to carry equipment and badly soiled mattresses in the A&E; department, with stains soaked through.

Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, told MPs last week that the more work needs to be done to improve standards at the trust.

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