Legionnaire's Disease pathogen found in water at some schools reopening after Covid-19 lockdowns

Great, another thing for worried parents to worry about in Fall, 2020. The pathogen that causes Legionnaire's Disease has been found in the water at some schools reopening after long Covid-19 lockdowns.

"Legionella could lurk in the water supplies of school buildings, and some measures to keep people in schools safe from coronavirus may even increase risks from deadly illnesses caused by the bacteria," reports Max Horberry at the New York Times:

Last week in Ohio, officials found Legionella at five schools in an assortment of towns. On Friday, a district in Pennsylvania also announced it had found Legionella at four of its schools.

"It is unusual to hear about nine schools in a one-week period having a detection of Legionella," said Andrew Whelton, an associate professor of civil, environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University in Indiana who has been studying the effects of lockdown on water systems. He said that more schools may be testing for the bacteria than in a typical year.

Legionella, usually Legionella pneumophila, is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, a respiratory condition. It can form in stagnant water and then disperse through the air and be inhaled when, for example, a shower or tap is turned on. It can be fatal in one in 10 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although young children are less at risk of Legionnaires', older students, adults and people with compromised immune systems are vulnerable.

To protect against the spread of coronavirus, many school buildings have been unoccupied since March. Their bathrooms, cafeterias and sports facilities have gone unused. While low occupancy in schools is typical during summer breaks, many are open for summer school and other activities. Experts worry that water was left to stagnate in plumbing during lockdown, and that schools don't have plans or effective guidance from health authorities for dealing with the effects of prolonged shutdowns.

Read more at the New York Times: Reopened Schools Find Health Risks in Water After Covid-19 Lockdowns

Here's more about the Pennsylvania case at WPXI-TV, PA: Legionella found in water at 4 of 6 Fox Chapel schools; students return to class Monday.

And more about the case in Ohio, here, at the Dayton Daily News: Legionella bacteria found at two area school districts