LaGuardia CC Students, Faculty Warned Of Legionnaires’ Disease
Students and faculty members at LaGuardia Community College received an email notification on August 2, warning of a potentially dangerous outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at the school’s Long Island City campus.
A spokesperson for the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) said the agency alerted school officials in June, that two school employees had come down with the virus between August 2011 and June 2012. DOH is under a federal mandate that prohibits the agency from releasing further information on the condition of the two employees.
College officials responded by hiring Olmstead Environmental Services, an industrial hygiene and safety firm, to perform necessary tests that will identify the bacteria responsible for the outbreak.
The bacteria responsible for Legionnaires’ Disease is initially found in hot water, according to a Web site for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
A DOH spokesperson said the agency had reviewed tests performed at LaGuardia that revealed the bacteria was found in the hot water system at LaGuardia’s Building C. College officials, working with DOH, shut down the hot water system, flushed the system to remove any sediment, then boiled and chlorinated the water, the spokesperson said.
School officials will continue to monitor the water system and will take all appropriate measures to ensure water safety.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease include high fever, chills, cough, muscle aches and a severe headache, the CDC Web site says. Antibiotics prescribed at the onset of the disease are usually effective in killing the bacteria in victims, the Web site states.
Victims of Legionnaires’ Disease are only infected after direct contact with bacteria in water systems, the CDC says. The disease cannot be spread person-to-person.