The plumbing system of the Douglass School in Leesburg has been flushed and treated with chlorine in response to tests that confirmed the presence of legionella bacteria, responsible for causing Legionnaire’s disease. Loudoun County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend said there is little cause for concern.
School spokesman Wayde Byard said the school system brought in outside contractor Applied Environmental Inc. to conduct the preliminary testing and to ensure the flushing procedure is effective in removing the bacteria. Testing will continue over the next two months, although Byard noted that there have been no reported cases of Legionnaire’s disease in anyone who has been at the school.
The bacteria tends to favor warm water as a habitat, and are often found in old air conditioning and water heating systems, and are fairly common. Goodfriend said the bacteria are so common that the health department does not conduct an investigation based on positive test results unless several people come contract the disease from a seemingly common source, or if someone who is confined to a limited area, such as a nursing home, contracts the disease.
While some school staff and summer campers were at the school before and after the testing, Byard said they have since been notified of the positive results by the school system, and have been given bottled water to drink until testing confirms the bacteria are no longer present in the school. Campers have also been moved away from areas in which the bacteria were found for safety reasons.