Aug 13, 2019

Virginia County Plagued By Legionnaires' Disease

Water cooling towers in multiple schools contained Legionella bacteria

Water cooling towers in multiple schools contained Legionella bacteria

The Virginia Department of Health is investigating 11 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Chesterfield County, Va. 

According to CBS 19 News, the bacteria that causes the disease has been found at seven locations. The locations are Falling Creek Middle School, Midlothian Middle School, Johnston-Willis Hospital, Greenfield Elementary School, Richmond Ice Zone, Defense Supply Center Richmond and Reynolds Metals Co., according to the Richmond-Times-Dispatch. All locations tested positive for Legionella bacteria

"The risk to residents or visitors to Chesterfield County is very small,” said Chesterfield Health District Director Dr. Alexander Samuel, according to CBS 19 News

Greenfield Elementary School closed and summer programs were moved to Weaver Elementary after the test’s findings. According to CBS 19 News, Chesterfield Superintendent Merv Daughtery said a water cooling tower near the school is undergoing disinfection, in a letter to parents. The tower tested positive for Legionella bacteria, the letter said. No students or faculty at the schools have reported illnesses linked to the outbreak, the letter also said. Falling Creek Middle and Midlothian Middle also have been closed to treat the issue, according to CBS 19 News

Dr. Alex Samuel, a state official and director of Chesterfield Health District, said Legionella bacteria also was found at the Richmond Ice Zone skating rink, Reynolds Metals Co., and Defense Supply Center Richmond, according to Richmond-Times-Dispatch

Health officials usually expect to see an average of three cases of Legionnaires’ disease during the summer, according to Richmond-Times-Dispatch. Four sites where Legionella was found were in Midlothian and the rest are located in the eastern part of Chesterfield County. 

“When you test for something, you’re going to find it. Really, this bacteria is fairly common,” Samuel said, according to Richmond-Times-Dispatch. “The greater issue, of course, is whether the sites that have tested positive were the source of bacteria that caused the Legionnaires’ in the cases. That has not yet been determined.”