The Bethesda Naval Hospital, where two persons died late last year after contracting legionnaires disease, has experienced no further incidence of the illness since a third patient recovered from the disease there in December, according to a hospital spokesman.
Lt. Cmdr. Claude Shehane said that the third patient, who was suffering from other, more long-term ailments, was transferred to a veterans hospital after the pneumonia-like disease was successfully treated.
Since colonies of bacterium legionella were discovered on shower heads and faucets at the hospital in November, all of the shower heads have been replaced and other hardware sterilized, Shehane said.
"We have not had another case since," he said.
Hospital officials said following the two deaths that no epidemic existed at the hospital like the one that originally brought the disease to public attention with the deaths of 29 people following an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976.
"In essence, the bacteria was in the environment," Shehane said.
"You cannot state that it will not return. We have taken all the precautions we can take at this point."
The 500-bed hospital on Wisconsin Avenue became a focus of attention last November when officials there revealed that two patients who were suffering from terminal cancer died of legionnaires disease within three weeks of each other.
The disease, which is still considered rare, strikes about 25,000 people a year, killing about 20 percent of its victims who are already sick, experts said.