University Hospital Provides Update on Legionnaires' Cases

Media Inquiries

Lisa Brunette

(608) 206-7084


Follow Us

Twitter icon Follow UW Health on Twitter

Twitter icon Follow UW Health on Facebook

Madison, Wisconsin - Since reporting cases of Legionnaires' disease at the University Hospital last month, UW Health continues to monitor the safety of its water system. Legionnaires' disease, a type of pneumonia, is caused by bacteria that are typically present at low concentrations in tap water. In response to the reported cases, the hospital implemented a hyperchlorination process to flush all hot water lines in the building.


The chlorination of the water system has worked as anticipated. Testing completed so far has shown the expected reduction in the bacteria. Our monitoring at multiple sites within University Hospital is ongoing.


As is standard practice, UW Health is working closely with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health to confer on best practices and support additional testing efforts. Additionally, hospital leadership has invited the Centers for Disease Control to offer their expertise and serve as an additional independent verification of system safety.


"We are confident the hyperchlorination worked as expected. An aggressive program of monitoring and screening is in place to ensure the system is functioning as designed. Our commitment to the safety of our patients is unwavering," said John Marx, UW Health senior infection control practice specialist. "It is important to emphasize Legionnaires' disease is not spread person to person."


Hospital officials had expected new cases based on the exposure window, which was closed through hyperchlorination on November 28. Symptoms can present up to 14 days after exposure, although the typical onset is within five to six days. This means any other potentially impacted individuals would likely show symptoms by December 12. As of Friday, December 7, 2018, 11 cases of Legionnaire's disease have been identified at University Hospital.


There are now four hospitalized patients at University Hospital. Their condition is stable and their treatment with antibiotics is working as expected. The six other patients have either been discharged or treated at outpatient facilities. As previously reported, one patient, who had been hospitalized for other serious health conditions, died last week.


Hospital leadership recognizes the impact this situation has had on patients and their families. Patient safety is the number-one priority and the hospital will continue to deliver the highest levels of care and support patients throughout their treatment and recovery process.

Date Published: 12/07/2018

News RSS Feed