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CDC investigates Legionnaires' disease outbreak

The Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have sent personnel to a Clermont County hospital to trace the source of a recent outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. Two patients at the Mount Carmel medical facility have already been diagnosed with the potentially deadly condition. A hospital representative said that the facility was cooperating with health inspectors and is continuing to provide medical services during the investigation.

Legionnaires' disease is a severe type of pneumonia that is caused by bacteria that is commonly found in fresh water sources like lakes and streams. The bacteria thrives in hot water tanks, air conditioners and cooling towers when it finds its way into the water systems of large buildings. People usually become infected after inhaling mist that contains the bacteria. Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and shortness of breath. About one in 10 of the people who become infected die of the condition.

The hospital says that it is hyperchlorinating its entire water supply to prevent the spread of the disease. Health inspectors are worried that other patients may have already become infected. An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at a nearby hospital in May led to the death of a 75-year-old woman. The outbreak occurred just weeks after the $361 million facility opened its doors. At least seven medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed against the hospital in connection with the outbreak.

Hospitals are expected to take all reasonable precautions to protect their patients from deadly diseases caused by unsanitary conditions. When medical facilities fail to meet this standard of care, they could face litigation filed by patients and family members of patients who suffered harm as a result of hospital negligence, which is a form of medical malpractice.

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