Italian Woman Dies from Legionnaires Disease at Dental Practice

A recent death of an Italian woman from Legionnaires Disease is a timely reminder that dental surgeries should be constantly checked for cleanliness and bacterial infection.

It has been found that the 82-year-old woman died from bacteria found in the water line used by her dentist, which shows the need to ensure that patients are not at risk.

Legionnaires Disease causes severe pneumonia, which even healthy people can succumb to. The lady although in her early 80s was apparently very healthy and visited her dentist on 2 occasions. As such, when the cause of death was realised, the only place where they could find the bacterium was at the practice.

Samples were taken from water supplies in the lady’s home but the L pneumophila was not found there. However, samples taken from water supplies at the dental practice showed high levels of the bacterium with the highest levels found in the output from the high-speed turbine.

Legionnaires Disease comes in 2 forms – Legion Fever and Pontiac Fever. The former is more severe and causes pneumonia. The latter is a milder illness that is less likely to be fatal.

Speaking with reporters, Peter Bacon, technical director at a company that supplies a product that helps reduce contamination in dental surgeries said: “We have long understood the risks associated with infections caused by the presence of biofilm in dental unit water lines and have worked to provide an easy to use solution for dentists.”

He added: “This case underpins the duty of care dentists need to demonstrate to patients as well as to the regulatory bodies, to ensure they are minimising risk. This is exactly the reason we offer free, reliable dental unit water assessments to dentists.”