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Legionella detected at Wayne State’s Old Main building

The university is shutting down the building’s air conditioning for several days to remediate the issue


Wayne State University has shut down air conditioning in its Old Main building at Warren and Cass avenues after detecting elevated levels of Legionella bacteria. The air conditioning is expected to be off for several days while the problem is addressed.

The Metro Times reports that the bacteria was detected during routine testing of the cooling tower, which will need to be treated with chemicals or by adjusting the water treatment plan.

Temperatures the next few days are forecasted in the upper 80s.

Exposure to Legionella can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a form of pneumonia that results in death in about 10 percent of cases. It’s especially dangerous to the elderly. Common symptoms include coughing, fevers, and chills; some people also experience aches, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Legionella grows in warm climates, often in hot water tanks and cooling towers, which then disperse the bacteria through cooling systems, showers, or steam. It is not contagious between people.

This is not the first time Wayne State has had issues with Legionella. Last year, the university detected the bacteria in six of its buildings, though not Old Main, and issued a campus-wide alert. At least one employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, but was back to work in a month.

Wayne State University

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