Oakwood schools find Legionella for 4th straight year; Kettering tests continue

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

OAKWOOD — The Oakwood school district has found legionella bacteria in its water supply for the fourth straight year.

Water usage at Oakwood Junior High/High School was immediately limited after receiving the test results earlier this month, school officials said.

All water fountains at the Far Hills Avenue schools are closed, and there is no showering or use of hot water permitted, according to the district.

Water systems in those buildings will be treated Friday by Solid Blend Water Management Solutions of Vandalia. No bacteria were reported at Lange School, Smith Elementary or Mack Hummon Stadium, officials said. The district said it is awaiting test results from Lane Stadium and Harman School.

Legionella can cause a form of pneumonia ― Legionnaires’ disease ― when people breathe in small droplets of contaminated water. Symptoms, which typically start 2-14 days after exposure, include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches, according to the CDC.

Oakwood schools started annual “proactive” water testing about five years ago, district spokeswoman Traci Hale told the Dayton Daily News.

“As we continue to work with Solid Blend … the results have improved each year,” she said. “The district is continuing to follow the water management plan created with Solid Blend.”

That includes regularly flushing the system and proper water temperature controls, Hale added.

Last July, Oakwood discovered Legionella at the junior high/high school buildings and at Smith Elementary.

In 2020, the bacteria which can cause pneumonia-like Legionnaires’ disease was found in a girls’ restroom on the second floor of Smith. Legionella was also found at Smith two years ago.

There will be no water usage at OJH/OHS during the treatment Friday, and afterward the water will be retested, according to Hale. Water limitations will stay in place until the district receives negative test results, she added. Test results commonly take a week following treatments.

Kettering update

In June, initial testing of water samples from the fieldhouse at Kettering Fairmont High School’s Roush Stadium prompted that district to close the fieldhouse. Multiple athletes were reported to have gotten sick. Follow-up tests later came back negative for Legionella bacteria, according to Kettering schools.

“The fieldhouse is fully operational,” Kettering schools Business Services Director Jeff Johnson said in an email Monday.

Despite the negative test result, Kettering decided to remediate by using a hydro-chlorination method with the water supply as well as disinfecting the water fountain and ice machine, he added.

“We also have a flushing schedule put in place to ensure water movement,” Johnson said.

The Kettering district is now testing other locations. Results are back from two elementary schools, Greenmont and Prass, both of which had no detected Legionella, he said.

According to the CDC, legionella becomes a health risk when it grows in buildings and water systems. There is a risk in systems that aren’t used for an extended period of time, such as school buildings during summer break.

The CDC says most Legionnaires’ disease cases can be treated successfully, and healthy people usually get better. But about 10 percent die due to complications. In 2022, there were 33 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Montgomery County, and in 2021, there were 60.

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