Legionnaires disease scare at Galveston prison hospital

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

GALVESTON, Texas - KPRC 2 was sent a memo that was issued to UTMB employees that reveals a high level of bacteria in the water at the TDCJ hospital, which is the prisoners' hospital and not the public facility.

Routine testing of the water supply reveals elevated levels of Legionella bacteria.

"The Legionella bacterium occurs naturally in water but typically not at levels that can cause illness. The bacteria must be aspirated into the lungs to cause illness. Infections that may occur can be effectively treated with antibiotics, UTMB said.

They want people to know that no one has ever been infected while at UTMB or TDCJ, and to prevent such a possibility, they are installing medical grade bacterial filters on numerous locations including ice machines and showers.

For now, they are giving the inmate patients and hospital staff bottled water.

"The special, industrial-grade filters are already in place in John Sealy Hospital and were placed there after Hurricane Ike caused Legionella levels to rise in the hospital's water system," UTMB said.

No cases of Legionella infection have occurred.

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