WSU's Water Safety Program performs a wide variety of duties in the inspection, testing, sampling, and monitoring of the campus water system (including, but not limited to potable water, cooling towers, and recreational water) to ensure compliance with federal, state and local requirements. The team works to monitor water quality and implement measures to ensure the safety of the Wayne State community.
In the summer months, Legionella is more prevalent, and we have increased our testing protocol accordingly.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria. The bacterium is found naturally in fresh water. It can contaminate hot water tanks, hot tubs and cooling towers of large air conditioning systems. It is rarely, if ever, spread by person-to-person contact. Most people exposed to the bacterium do not contract the disease.
Is Legionella rare?
No. Legionella is quite common and is a naturally occurring bacterium found in streams, lakes and rivers, among other places.
What are the symptoms of the disease?
Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, headaches, chills and muscle pain. In some cases, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur.
What should I do if I have some of those symptoms?
You should make an appointment with your primary care physician. In most cases, Legionnaires’ disease is effectively treated with antibiotics.
Are there risk factors that make someone more susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease?
Yes. Individuals 50 years of age and older who are smokers or former smokers, those with diabetes, chronic liver, kidney or lung disease, and those with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible to Legionnaires’ disease. It is extremely rare for younger people with no underlying disease and healthy immune systems to contract the disease.
How is it diagnosed?
Usually through a urine sample and sputum (phlegm) analysis.
How will the contamination be treated?
Our outside experts treat contamination by “shocking” the water system, cleaning and disinfecting the system. They treat circulating water for microorganisms and corrosion, and frequent microbiologic analysis is performed to ensure control of biological contamination.
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