Bacteria That Causes Legionnaires' Found At Wayne State Buildings

June 07, 2018 - 9:28 am

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Six buildings on the downtown campus of Wayne State University have tested positive for legionella, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires' Disease.

The school made an announcement Wednesday, saying tests for legionella were performed after an employee who works in the school's Faculty Administration Building was earlier diagnosed with the disease. 

Officials say the bacterium was discovered in the cooling towers of three buildings: The Towers Residential Suites, Purdy/Kresge Library and the College of Education Building. Legionella was also identified in a private bathroom in Faculty Administration Building, in a first-floor men's bathroom in Scott Hall next to Room 1200, and in a men's bathroom in the Cohn Building next to room 118. These bathrooms are closed until they can be further evaluated. 

The school plans more tests. Experts also will help re-evaluate the school's water treatment and monitoring procedures.

Legionnaires' is a pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs via water vapor that's inhaled. In general, legionella bacteria do not spread from one person to another. It is a treatable disease if diagnosed early.

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.