Federal and state officials have taken water samples at Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital to determine the cause of an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that has killed three women and infected 10 other patients.
It was not known whether 226-bed Chambersburg Hospital was the source of the disease.
Officials of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Health took water samples at the hospital and in the community.
Legionellosis, or Legionnaires' disease, is a bacterial ailment that causes flu-like symptoms and may lead to pneumonia. It got its name from a 1976 outbreak in Philadelphia among people attending a convention of the American Legion.
The outbreak in Chambersburg apparently began the weekend of July 8 and 9 when the hospital began to see some pneumonia-like cases, said Lori Moran, a hospital spokeswoman. On July 13, an 83-year-old patient of the hospital died. She was the first to be diagnosed as having Legionnaires' disease.
Some, but not all, of the other suspected and confirmed cases had connections to the hospital, having been visitors, outpatients or volunteer employees, Moran said.
A total of 13 Legionnaires' cases have been confirmed. A 55-year-old woman died of the disease on July 17 and a 67-year-old woman died on July 18. Five patients have been discharged and five remain in the hospital.
Following the first confirmed diagnosis, Chambersburg Hospital sanitized its water and cooling systems. It is now one of the safest places to be, Moran said.
Neither the CDC nor the health department has placed any restrictions on the hospital nor do the agencies say they believe any precautionary measures are required, she added.
"Basically we're running as normal," Moran said. However, a few people have canceled elective surgeries, she acknowledged.