In a recent case report in The Lancet, an 82-year-old Italian woman's death from Legionnaires' disease was attributed to infection with Legionella bacteria from a contaminated dental unit waterline. The case is likely the first documented incidence of Legionnaires' disease (the pneumonic form of legionellosis) that has been directly associated with dental unit waterlines. The report drew online news coverage from ABC News2 and other agencies.
In February 2011, the woman was admitted to an intensive care unit in Forli, Italy, with fever and respiratory complications. At the time of initial hospitalization, she was conscious, responsive and had no underlying disease, but her urinary antigen test was positive for Legionella pneumophila, the organism responsible for Legionnaires' disease. A chest x-ray showed regions of lung tissue consolidation, and a respiratory specimen also tested positive for L. pneumophila. Despite immediate treatment with antibiotics, the woman developed rapid and irreversible septic shock and died within two days.
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