16 May 2013 | SPL News

The bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease have been found at the Pittsburgh VA's outpatient clinic in the Washington Crown Center mall in North Franklin.

Clinic officials are not aware of any illnesses from the contamination, so there were no cases to report to state health officials, said Brandon Blatt, a vice president of Sterling Medical Corp., the Cincinnati-based firm that leases and runs the clinic for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Outpatients at the VA clinic would generally face a “very, very low” risk of Legionella exposure, said microbiology expert Janet Stout, who formerly worked at the Pittsburgh VA system. The elderly and others with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to the bacteria, which cause Legionnaires' when inhaled as mist from showers or spas.

“A certain percentage of us live with Legionella in our home,” said Stout, who now runs the Special Pathogens Laboratory, Uptown. “Most of us are exposed to Legionella without harm.”

She said patients in hospitals or other inpatient facilities can face a higher exposure risk because they stay for prolonged periods of time.

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