Increase in VA Legionnaires' Disease Rates From 2014 to 2016

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The researchers found that 91 percent of cases had no VA exposure or only outpatient VA exposure. <i>Photo Credit: CDC/Francis W. Chandler, DVM, PhD</i>
The researchers found that 91 percent of cases had no VA exposure or only outpatient VA exposure. Photo Credit: CDC/Francis W. Chandler, DVM, PhD

HealthDay News — There was an increase in Legionnaires' Disease (LD) from 2014 to 2016, according to a study published online June 15 in JAMA Network Open.

Shantini D. Gamage, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Washington, D.C., and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study of reported LD data in VA medical facilities in a national VA LD surveillance system. A total of 491 LD cases were identified in the surveillance system from Jan. 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2016.

The researchers found that 91 percent of cases had no VA exposure or only outpatient VA exposure. The remaining cases had VA exposure from overnight stays. 

For all VA enrollees and for users of VA health care there were increases in total LD rates from Jan. 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2016 (from 1.5 to 2.0 per 100,000 enrollees and from 2.3 to 3.0 per 100,000 enrollees, respectively; both P = 0.04). For the subset who had no VA exposure there was also an increase in LD rate (0.90 to 1.47 per 100,000 enrollees; P < 0.001). There was a decrease in the LD rate for patients with VA overnight stay on a population level (5.0 to 2.3 per 100,000 enrollees) and an exposure level (0.31 to 0.15 per 100,000 enrollees) (both P < 0.001).

"Data in the VA LD databases showed an increase in overall LD rates over the three years, driven by increases in rates of non-VA LD," the authors write. "Inpatient VA-associated LD rates decreased, suggesting that the VA's LD prevention efforts have contributed to improved patient safety."

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