Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America comments on CDC’s new Vital Signs report; urges facilities to take steps to reduce danger of Legionella

Arlington, VA (June 7, 2016) – Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data on the frequency, location, and source of recent Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and information on proper water management programs for buildings, including healthcare facilities. The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) applauds the CDC’s efforts to protect patients from this dangerous pathogen.

“As infectious disease experts, our job is to remain vigilant about protecting patients from potential exposure to infection causing agents,” said Louise M. Dembry, MD, MS, MBA, president of SHEA. “Guidance on effectively managing this environmental hazard helps all types of healthcare facilities provide safer care.”

The Legionella bacteria can cause pneumonia and pneumonia-like respiratory infections in people who inhale contaminated water droplets. Legionella bacteria occur naturally in the environment, but can be a health problem when it gets into and multiplies in water systems like decorative fountains, showers, hot tubs and cooling towers. Infection prevention experts are involved in investigating and identifying the source of Legionnaires’ outbreaks in healthcare facilities or specific geographic locations and recommending practices to prevent further infections.

“For years, SHEA members, as leaders in infection prevention, have worked to manage the environmental sources of Legionnaires’ disease before, during, and after outbreak situations, but until now the scope of this issue hasn’t been well understood,” said Dembry. “The CDC’s leadership in reporting the scope of their work on this pathogen, as well as best practices for controlling it, is timely for improving water quality and limiting this public health threat.”

View the full CDC Vital Signs report.

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SHEA is a professional society representing physicians and other healthcare professionals around the world with expertise and passion in healthcare epidemiology, infection prevention, and antimicrobial stewardship. SHEA's mission is to prevent and control healthcare-associated infections, improve the use of antibiotics in healthcare settings, and advance the field of healthcare epidemiology. SHEA improves patient care and healthcare personnel safety in all healthcare settings through the critical contributions of healthcare epidemiology and improved antibiotic use. The society leads this specialty by promoting science and research, advocating for effective policies, providing high-quality education and training, and developing appropriate guidelines and guidance in practice. Visit SHEA online at www.shea-online.org,www.facebook.com/SHEApreventingHAIs and @SHEA_Epi.