Woman Dies After Contracting Legionnaires’ Disease From Dentist’s Office

An 82-year-old Italian woman died after she contracted Legionnaires’ disease, a severe, pneumonia-like illness, from the water in her dentist’s office, according to a case report published in the journal The Lancet. Scientists who determined the source of the woman’s illness, which occurred in February 2011, said during the disease’s incubation period the woman only left her home twice to visit her dentist. When they tested the water in both places, they discovered the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ in the dentist’s water line. Water lines carry water from the main water supply to certain devices used during patient care. While the authors wrote the most common sources of infection are air conditioning systems, hot water systems, spas and fountains, a recent study found dental water lines to be another major source of contamination with Legionella bacteria. Legionella pneumophila is the bacterial strain that causes Legionnaires’ disease. “However, as far as we are aware, no case of Legionnaires’ disease has been associated with this source of infection,” added the authors, led by Maria Luisa Ricci of the Italian National Health Service. While it was not clear what kind of water line standards were in place in Italy, in the US, the American Dental Association (ADA) said infection control standards are very stringent in order to prevent cases like the one in Italy from happening. “Since the ADA convened a special task force in the mid-1990s focusing on infection
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