Legionalla bacteria was detected in three suburban Elgin, Illinois schools. The students and staff were evacuated after the Wednesday morning discovery.
The Legionella bacteria was discovered during an annual air quality test of the cooling towers at the Elgin schools, WGN TV News reports. Higher than normal levels of the bacteria were reportedly found at Larkin High School, Eastview Middle School, and the district central office and Gifford Street High School.
Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaire’s disease. The bacteria is transmitted through water when humans breathe in a vapor or mist containing the bacteria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note. The illness is not spread person-to-person.
Most individuals who come into contact with Legionella bacteria do not become ill, the CDC also reports. Legionella bacteria stems from a pathogenic group of Gram-negative bacteria, which includes the species L. pneumophila.
Symptoms of Legionnaire’s Disease include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Symptoms can also include a more mild form of the illness known as Pontiac Fever.
Students at Eastview Middle School were immediately transported to Bartlett High School to await pickup by parents. High school students in impacted buildngs were transported to Elgin High School. Special needs students were also transported out of the buildings where the presences of Legionella was detected, ABC 7 News reports.
“Legionnaires’ disease, or Legionellosis, is a severe infection caused by Legionella species, primarily L. pneumophila. In fact, L. pneumophila is responsible for 90 percent of infections. The disease typically presents as pneumonia and symptoms may include a high fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, headaches, and diarrhea,” according to Legionella.org.
“Our annual air quality testing of school cooling towers found higher than normal levels of Legionella bacteria at Eastview Middle, Larkin High, and at the Central Office/Gifford Street High school programs. I made the decision to close these buildings immediately,” Tony Sanders, CEO, School District U-46, posted on the district Facebook page.
The Kane County Health Department reports that no cases of Legionnaire’s disease have been reported, and emphasized that the Elgin schools were closed “out of an abundance of caution.”
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