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Concerning levels of Legionella bacterium found in water supply at Ben Taub Hospital, Harris Health says

No one has been affected by the water, Harris Health said.

HOUSTON — Concerning levels of Legionella bacterium, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, were found in the water supply at Ben Taub Hospital, according to Harris Health System.

In a statement released to KHOU 11, the healthcare system said during one of its recent testings of the water system at Ben Taub Hospital, three areas with levels slightly above industry standards of Legionella bacterium were found in the Neuro-Psychiatric Center at the hospital. 

Those areas were immediately shut down and access was restricted, the healthcare system said. No one has been affected by the water, Harris Health reported. 

Local health professionals, including an outside expert, have completed remediation of the impacted areas, according to the healthcare system. 

Harris Heath said it's waiting for follow-up test results of new water samples. 

Read Harris Heath System's full statement below:

Harris Health System prioritizes the health and safety of its patients, visitors and staff at all times. During a recent quarterly testing of our water systems—as part of Harris Health’s comprehensive water management program—three areas with levels slightly above industry standards of Legionella bacterium were found in the Neuro Psychiatric Center on the Ben Taub Hospital campus. We immediately shutdown these areas and restricted all access. Importantly, no one was affected by the water. Of note, Legionella is a naturally occurring bacterium in water systems and can easily grow in stagnant water. Our teams including an outside expert service quickly completed remediation of the areas. We are now awaiting follow-up test results of new water samples for those areas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionella bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria can also cause a less serious illness called Pontiac fever. 

It is a naturally occurring bacterium in water systems and can easily grow in stagnant water.

The bacteria can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made building water systems like:

  • Showerheads and sink faucets
  • Cooling towers (structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems for buildings or industrial processes)
  • Hot tubs
  • Decorative fountains and water features
  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Large, complex plumbing systems

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