Northville Health Center water restrictions

September 10, 2018  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

Through routine, proactive monitoring of its building water systems, Michigan Medicine identified a minimal level of Legionella bacteria in Northville Health Center’s water.

There are no reported cases of people being infected with Legionella linked to the positive water samples at Northville, and there is an extremely low risk to staff and patients.

Risk of Legionella infection requires water exposure to the lungs via aerosolization or from aspiration at the time of drinking. Using water for hand washing is not considered a risk for infection. Drinking water and using ice is considered a very low risk.

However, out of an abundance of caution, the Northville clinic will cease use of sinks for drinking water, drinking fountains, ice machines and showers at the building while the water system is further assessed.

Alternative drinking water sources will be provided across the facility until this concern has been addressed adequately.  It is safe to use coffee makers and to wash dishes.

These actions will protect our patients, guests and our faculty and staff, even though there is no regulatory or CDC requirement to do so for Legionella readings at this level.

Services at the building will continue to operate as normal during this analysis.  This risk assessment will ensure appropriate maintenance in order to supply safe water for use in the Northville Health Center.

Testing has been done at clinical facilities on the Michigan Medicine main medical campus and no Legionella bacteria was discovered during that assessment.

Legionella bacteria are found naturally in fresh water lakes and streams but can also be found in man-made water systems. Potable water systems, cooling towers, whirlpool spas and decorative fountains offer common environments for bacterial growth and transmission if they are not cleaned and maintained properly. Warm water, stagnation and low disinfectant levels are conditions that support growth in these water systems.

Transmission to people occurs when mist or vapor containing the bacteria is inhaled. Legionnaire’s disease does not spread person to person.

Most healthy individuals do not become infected after exposure to Legionella. Individuals at a higher risk of getting sick include the following:

  • People over age 50.
  • Current or former smokers.
  • People with chronic lung disease.
  • People with weakened immune systems from diseases, such as cancer, diabetes or liver or kidney failure.
  • People who take immunosuppressant drugs.

Testing would only be indicated/helpful if patients had signs and symptoms of Legionella infection.  The patient would need to inform their provider. If patients do not have not symptoms, there is no benefit to testing.