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Water will be turned off in parts of the General campus Thursday to disinfect the system after legionellosis cases

Over last weekend the hospital restricted access to tap water in two units of the General campus as it investigated the two confirmed cases.

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the ottawa hospital general campus
An April 2021 file photo of the Ottawa Hospital General campus. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

The Ottawa Hospital plans to turning off the water supply to some units Thursday in order to disinfect the water system. The action is being taken in response to two confirmed cases of legionellosis at the hospital.

“This means that, during this time, water will be unavailable to some units,” hospital spokesperson Rebecca Abelson said. “We are working with all impacted areas to ensure they have everything they need to prepare for this process, including alternative water sources.”

Ottawa Citizen

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Abelson did not say which units would be involved, but over the weekend the hospital restricted access to tap water in two units of the General campus as it investigated the cases. The units affected were 5 East and 5 West. It is unclear whether the water system hyperchlorination, which disinfects it, involves a larger section of the hospital.

Legionellosis is a form of pneumonia caused by exposure to Legionella, the common name for the bacterium L. pneumophila. It lives in water and may infect some people who inhale water droplets from a contaminated water supply, although most people will be unaffected.

Legionnaires’ disease, named after a severe pneumonia outbreak at a convention centre in the United States in 1976, is the most common form of legionellosis. It can also cause less severe illness.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy people usually get better after being sick with Legionnaires’ disease, but hospitalization is often required. About 15 out of 100 people who get it will die from the infection.

Many hospital patients have compromised immune systems because of illness, age or treatment.

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Legionellosis is not spread from person to person.

In October 2021, The Ottawa Hospital also turned off the water supply to part of the facility to disinfect it after one person was diagnosed with legionellosis.

“Patient and staff safety remain our top priority and we will continue working closely with public health and environmental experts to ensure that the water is turned back on as soon as possible,” Abelson said.

With files from Joanne Laucius

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