Legionnaires disease strikes child at Starship hospital

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 19:39 26/02/2013

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Hospital authorities hope to know the source of a potentially deadly bacteria at Starship Children's Hospital within the next few days.

A child battling legionnaires disease is believed to have been exposed to the bacteria at Starship Children's Hospital.

The girl is in intensive care after being diagnosed with the condition last week. Other patients in the ward have been tested for the disease, which is a form of pneumonia.

Director of child health Dr Richard Aickin said test results on the hospital's water and the air conditioning systems are due in two to three days.

The water, which is regularly tested, came back negative for legionnaires earlier this month and the air-conditioning has a filter system.

However, he said it was likely the child contracted legionnaires in the wards because she had been staying at the hospital for a long time.

Meanwhile, he is reassuring parents and staff that it is an isolated incident.

"The safety of our patients is always our highest priority and I want to make it clear there is no reason for the public to be alarmed.

Four patients at the the hospital had tested negative for the disease.

"The patients we have tested have weakened immune systems, making them susceptible to Legionella, so we believe it is very unlikely any other people are affected."

Legionella is usually caught through infected water or soil.
Aickin said the incubation period has passed without any new cases emerging.

"We are confident this is an isolated occurrence."

This is the first case of Legionnaires disease acquired by a patient at Starship or Auckland City Hospital.

The hospital would not release any further details of the affected patient.

One person died and eight were hospitalised after an outbreak of legionnaires disease in Canterbury in November.

The affected patients were believed to be infected while working in their gardens.

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