2 IU Health patients die of Legionnaire's Disease

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Indiana University Health says two patients have died at the network's University Hospital after contracting the bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease.

IU Health officials said Tuesday the patients died within the past month from pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. Both had conditions that compromised their immune systems.

Medical director of infection control Dr. Douglas Webb says it's not known if the patients were infected in the hospital located at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in downtown Indianapolis.

"We see this as a cause of concern and further investigation and are undergoing testing to determine whether these cases were acquired within the hospital. There is no reason to believe that any other patients, visitors or team members are at risk," Webb said.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Webb explained the limited risk of being harmed by Legionella.

"Legionella are very common, naturally occurring bacteria that live in soil and water. People typically contract the bacteria by breathing in contaminated water droplets, such as shower mist. Estimates suggest that Legionella bacteria acquired within the community are responsible for 1 to 5 percent of pneumonia hospitalizations. Healthy people exposed to Legionella rarely become sick. Those with weakened immune systems or underlying lung disease are most at risk. Legionella cannot be passed from person to person," he wrote.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)