Legionnaires’ still puzzles Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs officials

Bob Muder still couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

On Oct. 31, the day after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Robert Muder, chief of infection prevention at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, that genetic testing confirmed that two patients contracted Legionnaires’ disease during stays at the VA, he wrote to two top Pittsburgh VA officials to express his doubts.

“I remain skeptical that the patients actually acquired infection here, but the results don’t exclude that,” Dr. Muder wrote to Ali Sonel, the chief of staff, and Mona Melhem, associate chief of staff at the Pittsburgh VA.

The next day, as the concept sank in that the Pittsburgh VA — once one of the world’s leading research centers for Legionnaires’ — was in the midst of a serious outbreak of the disease, he reached out to a top VA official in Washington, D.C.

“I really don’t know what’s going on here because we historically don’t see cases until there is a much higher level of contamination,” Dr. Muder wrote in an email to Richard Martinello, chief consultant of the clinical public health group at the central VA office.



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  1. Chelsea Sawyer says:

    This kind of news is the very reason why I decided to have a water test in my house. In these days, it is hard to tell where you can get safe water as even health institutions are found to have contaminated water.

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