Editor’s note: This story has been updated from Thursday’s original version to clarify what areas of the medical center were closed off in response to the inspection there.
Showers have been closed in two areas at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany after inspectors informed the hospital on Tuesday that they found high levels of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe type of pneumonia.
The hospital’s water system, which was originally tested on Feb. 23, will be decontaminated beginning Friday afternoon, spokeswoman Stacy Sanning told Army Times. The water will be heated through the weekend to kill the bacteria, and then it will be retested for the water-born Legionella bacteria, she said.
The Legionella bacteria is transmitted through inhaling water vapor.
The testing was in response to a new requirement from the German government for U.S. military installations in that country to test annually for Legionella bacteria, according to information from the medical center. Since January 2017, in normal testing of patients with flu-like symptoms similar to those seen in Legionnaires Disease, none have tested positive for Legionella, Sanning said.
The discovery at Landstuhl came a week after the Army announced it had to decontaminate roughly 20 housing units at U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder, about 35 miles away from LRMC, where high levels of Legionella were found.
The showers in contaminated areas were closed. No one at Baumholder has tested positive for Legionnaires, a disease characterized by flu-like symptoms that appear within 10 days of exposure to bacteria.
Legionnaires was identified in 1976, after 130 people attending an American Legion conference in Philadelphia were hospitalized, and 25 died. The Legionella bacteria was later discovered in the hotel’s air conditioning system.