School Not Source Of Legionnaires’, Testing Confirms

Photo by Chris Lundy

BERKELEY – Central Regional Middle School is not the source of an employee’s contracting of Legionnaires’ disease.

As a precaution, the school was tested—and showed no Legionnaires’—and its main office sterilized, district Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides said.

The employee, who has not been publicly identified, likely got the infection while on vacation, the superintendent said. The employee, diagnosed in August, is reportedly recovering well and will be back to work soon.

Legionnaires’ disease—named for its outbreak at the Pennsylvania American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976—is a bacterium found in soil. It grows in moist places like air-conditioning ducts, storage tanks and rivers. Popularly, Legionnaires’ outbreaks are best known as happening in hotels and cruise ships.

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It’s not passed through human contact, but from inhaling airborne droplets carrying the bacteria. Older adults, smokers, and people with compromised immune systems are most susceptible.

If caught early, Legionnaires’ disease is treatable with antibiotics. If untreated, the disease is fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Legionnaires’ is very similar to pneumonia and other lung infections. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headache. Those infected may also experience diarrhea, nausea and confusion.

Those who believe they may have been exposed should see a doctor for a diagnosis.