Los Angeles County Health Official Dismiss Legionnaires’ Disease Incident as ‘Isolated’
The failure to make public a Legionnaires' disease outbreak earlier this year at a Los Angeles County hospital was an "isolated incident," according to health officials who testified Tuesday before the county Board of Supervisors. County Department of Health Services Director Dr. Thomas Garthwaite said that he reviewed all disease outbreaks from the past year and found that department has not withheld information about "any major health concern" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/17). The health department received criticism from the board after nine patients at Good Samaritan Hospital developed Legionnaires' disease. Some of the patients became ill after the hospital identified the outbreak (California Healthline, 7/10). Although the Times reports that health officials could have "alerted the public sooner" about the outbreak, Garthwaite said that the department's acute communicable disease unit "responded swiftly and appropriately." He added, "We've got some really smart people. They were just doing their job, not thinking about the public notification issue." Dr. Shirley Fannin, director of disease control programs for the county, said in a letter to the board that the outbreak "did not threaten the health of either the general public or visitors to the hospital," adding, "This hysteria about Legionella infection from one location is very misplaced." The hospital has reported no new infections of the disease since last month, the Times reports. The hospital is waiting for lab results that will determine whether a chlorine flush administered last week eliminated the contamination (Los Angeles Times, 7/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.