Fairmont HS disinfects water after positive test, Legionnaires’ case

CDC says long coronavirus-related building shutdowns could increase Legionella risks if water isn’t flushed properly.

Kettering City Schools are disinfecting the water system at Fairmont High School after an employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and Legionella bacteria was found in four water samples in the building.

District spokeswoman Kari Basson said the employee, one of the few working in the building in recent weeks, was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease last week. She said she could not comment on the person’s condition.

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District officials hired Solid Blend Water Management Solutions, which tested all water systems throughout the 2,300-student school, according to Basson. She said the four positive tests were found in restrooms and sinks in “a couple of wings” of the school.

“It was not all throughout the building. However, as a precautionary measure, the company right now is disinfecting the entire water system throughout the campus,” Basson said Wednesday afternoon. “Because of how large the campus is, there are several systems that are providing water to bathrooms and sinks.”

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.

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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.

Basson said after disinfecting and flushing the water system Wednesday, the contractor will return Monday to retest the water.

The Kettering school district has been working with the Ohio Department of Health and with Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County for the past week.

“We will take their directives moving forward because there are certain protocols we’re going to have to follow from here on out to ensure there are no issues again,” Basson said.

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