Traces of Legionella — the bacteria which causes Legionnaires’ disease — were discovered in three Wayne State buildings, according to a statement released by WSU Chief of Staff Michael Wright on June 6.
The university conducted an investigation searching for evidence of the bacteria’s presence on campus after a WSU employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease on May 29.
Legionnaires’ is a form of pneumonia contracted through the inhalation of water droplets containing Legionella. The disease is treatable if diagnosed early. People over 50 years old, those with chronic lung disease and people with cancer are among those at increased risk, according to the press release.
Three cooling towers tested positive during the preliminary tests; they began undergoing a disinfection process June 6, Wright said.
Legionella was also found in a private bathroom in the Faculty Administration Building, a first-floor men’s bathroom in Scott Hall and in a men’s bathroom next to room 118 in the Cohn Building. These locations will be closed pending further evaluation.
“[WSU] is not aware of any additional Legionnaires’ cases related to campus,” Wright said. “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.”
Independent experts will be returning to campus to collect more samples for comprehensive testing of campus water. The City of Detroit Health Department, who Wright said the university will “coordinate closely with,” has been alerted of the situation.
“It’s very important for people to know there’s very low risk of contracting Legionnaires’,” Wright said. “I guess we’re taking a very cautious approach.”
All campus buildings will remain open throughout the evaluation process.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ include cough, fever, chills and muscle aches. Members of the WSU community exhibiting these symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider.
Representatives from the City of Detroit Health Department were not available to comment.