District 101: 'No cause for concern' after Legionella found in Batavia High School cooling tower

  • Samples from a Batavia High School cooling tower tested positive for Legionella bacteria, but District 101 officials say there is "no cause for concern."

      Samples from a Batavia High School cooling tower tested positive for Legionella bacteria, but District 101 officials say there is "no cause for concern." Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/2/2019 3:00 PM

Samples from a Batavia High School cooling tower tested positive for Legionella bacteria, but District 101 officials say there is "no cause for concern."

An environmental assessment of the site was conducted as part of an investigation into a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in and around a Batavia senior living facility. Thirteen cases have been confirmed at Covenant Living at the Holmstad, which also tested positive for the bacteria, and two others involved residents living within a half-mile radius of the campus at 700 Fabyan Parkway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Though initial tests at Batavia High School were negative, the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed Tuesday that swab samples of the cooling tower contained Legionella bacteria, district officials said in a news release. The district already has shut down its cooling towers Sept. 24 "in an abundance of caution."

"We have been advised that it is safe for people to be at Batavia High School and have indicated that the cooling towers at BHS are a less likely source of the actual Legionnaire cases," the news release says.

State health officials do not have any reason to believe the school's potable water -- sinks or drinking fountains -- is unsafe, according to the district.

The water coolers, which are turned off at the end of every warm season, will be cleaned, disinfected and tested as usual before returning to service in the spring, district officials said.

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In response to the community cases, school nurses were instructed Sept. 17 to have a heightened awareness for symptoms of Legionnaires' disease, a serious lung infection that people can get by breathing in small droplets of water containing Legionella bacteria, district officials said.

There are no known cases of the disease among high school students, staff members or visitors, nor has there been increased reporting of respiratory illness.

Outbreaks are most commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complex water systems, such as hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities and cruise ships. The risk of getting sick from a building's water supply is low, especially for people in good health, district officials said.

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