Health watchdogs lacked Legionnaires' data for Pittsburgh VA hospital

March 10, 2013
by Sean Hamill
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


In theory, the Legionnaires' disease outbreak at Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs facilities that infected 21 men and killed five of them in 2011 and 2012 should have been caught much earlier.

County, state and federal health officials should have had the data about the cases that told them an outbreak was under way as early as the summer of 2011, when the second, hospital-related case occurred.

But a review by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reveals that problems with the way those 21 cases were -- or were not -- reported, and the flaws in the National Electronic Disease Surveillance System that should have had all the data, meant that none of the government health watchdogs had all the necessary information in time to help prevent the outbreak from spreading.


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