Legionella found on 3 Wayne State building cooling towers

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Wayne State University issued a campus alert for legionella after cooling towers on three campus buildings tested positive for it.

The campus buildings affected are the Towers Residential Suites, the Purdy/Kresge Library and the College of Education Building. In a tweet the school said it is taking immediate action and will continue testing throughout the campus.

On May 29 a school employee in the Faculty Administration Building was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease. The university said in a release that it began testing potential sources of legionella. 

The release said: Preliminary results have identified cooling towers on three campus buildings that have tested positive for legionella. Remediation in those three towers began immediately this evening using the prescribed disinfection process.

Legionella was also identified in a private bathroom in FAB, in a first-floor men's bathroom in Scott Hall next to Room 1200, and in a men's bathroom next to room 118 in the Cohn Building. These bathrooms will be closed until they can be further evaluated. 

As a result of these findings, the university will continue comprehensive testing of campus, including potable water, to ensure all water sources are safe. The expert consultants will return to campus this weekend to continue sampling. 

Moving forward, we will work with the experts to re-evaluate our water treatment and monitoring protocols and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that this problem does not occur in the future. 

The university has alerted the City of Detroit Health Department; with which we will coordinate closely moving forward. 

Wayne State is not aware of any additional Legionnaires' cases related to campus. In general, legionella bacteria do not spread from one person to another. People don't get Legionnaires' disease from drinking water. 

As indicated in our previous message, Legionnaires' is spread through inhalation of water droplets that contains the bacterium. While water leaks from rainwater are inconvenient and unsightly, they are unlikely to be a source of the disease. 

Legionnaires' is a form of pneumonia. Common symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include cough, fever, chills and muscle aches. In some cases, pneumonia may develop. People at increased risk of contracting the disease are those 50 years or older; current or former smokers; people with a chronic lung disease (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema); people with weak immune systems or who take drugs that weaken the immune system (like after a transplant operation or chemotherapy); people with cancer; and people with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure.

Legionnaires' is a treatable disease if diagnosed early, so please contact your health care provider or primary care physician if you exhibit any of the symptoms mentioned above. 

For additional information, please review this U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Fact Sheet. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.