Parts of Ben Taub Hospital shut down after Legionella bacteria found in water, officials say

Thursday, September 15, 2022
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Harris Health System officials immediately shut down areas where the bacteria was found, and now they are waiting for the test results to come back to see if they can reopen.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Ben Taub shut down an area of the hospital after bacteria was found in the water system, according to the Harris Health System.

Authorities said they immediately shut down the areas where Legionella bacteria was found. Now, officials are waiting for the test results to come back to see if they can reopen.

Hospital officials told ABC13 that no one had been affected by the bacteria.

According to a statement from the Harris Health System, it was found during a recent quarterly water test.

The statement says the levels tested at the Neuro-Psychiatric Center were "slightly above industry standards."

Legionella is a naturally occurring bacterium in water systems and can easily grow in stagnant water. It is the cause of Legionnaires' disease, as well as Pontiac fever, according to the CDC. People can get sick when they breathe in tiny droplets or accidentally swallow water containing Legionella into the lungs.

Water microbiologist Dr. Kristina Mena at the UTHealth School of Public Health shared insight into the bacteria.

"It's not known to be spread person-to-person," Mena said. "We can address any public health concerns by focusing on the source."

ABC13 will provide any updates on the test results and when the impacted parts of the hospital can reopen.

Harris Health officials say the water is safe everywhere on the Ben Taub campus that remains open.