2019 Kettering Fairmont custodian death also linked to Legionella

As Fairmont High School deals with recent positive tests for Legionella bacteria in its water, the school confirmed Thursday that a former Fairmont custodian died 14 months ago, also with links to Legionella.

Keith “Casey” Chaffin died in May 2019. Kettering City Schools spokeswoman Kari Basson confirmed that Chaffin worked as a custodian at Fairmont until weeks before his death.

FIRST STORY: Fairmont HS disinfecting water; positive test for Legionella

She also confirmed that one of the four positive tests for Legionella bacteria this summer came from the custodian office bathroom sink, just west of the cafeteria. A current custodian tested positive for Legionnaires Disease in the past two weeks. That person’s condition has not been made public.

Basson said Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County notified the school district last year that Chaffin’s death was linked to Legionnaires Disease. But she said the water sources in the high school were not tested in 2019 like they have been in the past two weeks,

“You’re going to have to talk to public health,” Basson said. “They didn’t test it like we’re doing this year. They followed their protocol. We did whatever they told us to do, but that did not include testing of the water sources like we did this time.”

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Officials with Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Kettering schools are currently working with Public Health and with Solid Blend Water Management Solutions to disinfect all water systems within the 2,300-student school. That process began after a current custodian tested positive for Legionnaires Disease.

Testing within the past two weeks found positive tests in four areas spread around the school — the men’s restroom in the main lobby area, the central unit women’s restroom, the south unit men’s restroom and head custodian’s office, between the cafeteria and the library.

Basson said the contractor will return Monday to retest the school’s water after the disinfecting process.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that often requires antibiotics and hospital care. The CDC says most cases can be treated successfully, and healthy people usually get better. But about 10 percent die due to complications.

A May 7 CDC document says the coronavirus-related shutdown of schools and other large facilities could increase risks of Legionella bacteria if water in pipes sits stagnant or isn’t flushed for longer periods than normal.

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