Chesterton Tribune

 

 

WIS and CMS closed after Legionnaires bacteria found in water supply

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Westchester Intermediate School, Chesterton Middle School, and the Duneland Schools Administration Center were closed today, after traces of Legionialla--the bacteria which causes Legionnaire’s disease--were found in the cooling tower at WIS and the water system at CMS.

Testing for the bacteria was conducted after a Duneland Schools employee self-reported a positive test for Legionnaires’ disease, the Duneland School Corporation (DSC) said in a statement released late on Thursday.

“How or where the disease was contracted is not known at this time,” the statement said. “For safety purposes, DSC arranged for Legionella bacteria testing by an environmental testing company in the employee’s workplace and other district facilities that are characterized as high-risk for this type of bacteria due to the physical characteristics of the facility. Preliminary test results were received this evening indicating that traces of Legionella bacteria were present in the water system at Chesterton Middle School and in the cooling tower at Westchester Intermediate School. The Porter County Health Department has been notified and is assisting with the coordination of these concerns.”

The CDC on Legionnaire’s

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Legionnaire’s disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium, found “naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made building water systems, like showerheads and sink faucets; cooling towers (structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems for buildings or industrial processes); hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use; decorative fountains and water features; hot water tanks and heaters; large plumbing systems.”

“After Legionella grows and multiplies in a building water system, water containing Legionella then has to spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in,” the CDC says. “People can get Legionnaire’s disease”--or a less serious illness called Pontiac fever--“when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria.”

Symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, and muscle aches. It can also be associated with diarrhea, nausea, and confusion, CDC says, and symptoms generally present within two to 10 days of being exposed to the bacteria. “If you develop pneumonia symptoms, see a doctor right away. Be sure to mention if you may have been exposed to Legionella.”

Legionnaire’s disease was first diagnosed in 1976, the CDC notes, after 182 attendees of an American Legion convention in Philadelphia contracted it. Of those, 29 died. In 2017 U.S. health departments reported nearly 7,500 cases of Legionnaire’s disease, but the CDC says that the disease is “likely underdiagnosed.”

DSC

“We are conducting further checks of the water systems and air systems to determine if and where all sources within the school linked to the issue exists,” DSC said on Thursday. “At this time, DCS is working with an environmental company to immediately abate any environmental hazard to ensure the safety of students and staff. In the meantime, if any student or staff has pneumonia like symptoms, please seek medical attention to ensure all precautions are taken. The safety of our students and staff is our primary concern. Further information will be forthcoming to advise of measures that have been taken for students and staff to resume regular attendance.”

DSC did say that today will be an eLearning day for the students and staff of WIS and CMS. “Teachers will post their assignments no later than 10 a.m. Students will be responsible to turn in their assignments by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8.”

All other DSC schools were open today and DSC said that further information would be available sometime today on its website.

 

 

Posted 10/4/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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