The main purpose of plumbing since it’s its first recorded usage in 2500 B.C has been to carry water and help prevent the spread of disease. Lately, however, that last fact has become a little less applicable.
Recently there has been a growing outbreak of Legionnaires disease across the nation and concerns about contaminations via water supplies are amplifying, health officials report.
Though it is very rare to contract the disease, there has been a 450% increase in cases in the past two decades, according to a CDC (Centers for Disease Control) report.
The outbreaks are a growing concern for America’s water supply, as a report issued last month revealed that nearly 30 million people may have access to a contaminated water supply and tap water.
This is especially true of nursing homes and hospitals, which need to do more to protect their water supply, health officials state.
A recent analysis of the more than 2,800 cases of Legionnaires that occurred in 2015 found that 553 or more of them possibly occurred in a health care facility, according to the CDC.
“It’s widespread, it’s deadly and it’s preventable,” said Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director.
The CDC says that these health facilities need to work harder to keep the bacteria out of places where patients might be exposed, like showers, sinks, bathtubs, and medical equipment that use water.
Shuchat encourages the facilities to get an effective water-management system and to check their plumbing.
“We know if those facilities have an effective water-management system they can prevent these infections. Nobody wants their loved one to go into a hospital or a long-term care facility and end up with Legionnaires’ disease,” she said.
Schuchat states that she was surprised by the number of cases associated with health care facilities, and noted that they must be extra attentive to those areas, given that they are where the most vulnerable to disease are.
Nurses and doctors state that they are working hard to make sure that their facilities are safe for their patients.
Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association, wrote the following in an email about the issue:
“America’s hospitals and health systems are committed to providing safe and healthy environments for the patients they serve.This includes ensuring the development and use of an effective water management program to help prevent the outbreak of diseases, including Legionnaires’ disease.”