Legionella Poses Back-To-School Threat
As schools and sports facilities reopen COVID-19 isn't the only respiratory illness to worry about. NBC's Sarah Dallof reports.
(NBC News) — As schools and sports facilities reopen COVID-19 isn’t the only respiratory illness to worry about.
The early and extended closure of buildings has heightened the risk of another illness.
Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires Disease, has been detected in several schools near Dayton, Ohio and in a Pittsburgh suburb.
Legionella can form in stagnant water, from locker room shower heads, to drinking fountains, to classroom sinks that have gone unused longer than usual due to the pandemic.
It spreads through mist when those water sources are turned back on, and if inhaled can cause Legionnaires Disease.
“It’s cough, fever, shortness of breath and unfortunately sounds a lot like COVID,” says the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Alan Taege. “So it may be a little difficult to differentiate.”
Younger, healthy people exposed to Legionella are less likely to get sick than older adults and those with weakened immune systems.
Those who do are generally treated with antibiotics, but the illness can be fatal.
The Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines for reopening buildings after prolonged shutdowns that it says can apply to schools, including testing and flushing water systems.
Read more here.