Legionella bacteria discovered at 2 more schools in Montgomery County

VANDALIA — Legionella bacteria, a source for the pneumonia illness Legionnaires’ disease, was discovered in four locations at Vandalia-Butler High School during an assessment of the school’s water system and in a restroom at Englewood Elementary school in the Northmont district, according district spokespeople.

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Vandalia-Butler schools scheduled a proactive assessment of its potable water systems in all the district’s facilities, as a part of the district’s summer maintenance plan. During that assessment, legionella bacteria were found in four locations in the high school’s hot water side of the system, the spokesperson said in a media release Tuesday.

The assessments at Vandalia-Butler were taken Aug. 10 and the results were received Monday, the district said.

Northmont City Schools announced Monday that legionella also was discovered at Englewood Elementary in a restroom sink raucet.

“The overall water system for that building was deemed safe as there is a “none detected” marker for other locations throughout the building indicating that it was an isolated incident,” Northmont officials said. “It is believed that this is due to lack of use for the last several months as a result of having limited personnel in the building. This is a low risk situation and there is no reason to believe there were any staff exposed to Legionella.”

Northmont is working with Solid Blend Technologies to treat the building’s water system.

A disinfecting procedure of the entire potable water system at Vandalia-Butler High School started Tuesday and is expected to be completed Wednesday, according to the school district.

“We are certainly glad we took this extra measure and that our system was assessed, the problem discovered, and it will soon be rectified. As always, the health and safety of our students and staff is a top priority,” Vandalia-Butler Superintendent Rob O’Leary said in the release.

Legionella is a bacteria that can cause a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Legionella can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made building water systems.

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The presence of the bacteria at Vandalia-Butler High School and Englewood Elementary comes after Legionella was found at Fairmont High School in Kettering in July.

The discovery of Legionella bacteria at Fairmont High School was made after WHIO-TV began investigating water system issues there, when a second Kettering schools employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in June. The condition of the second employee has not been disclosed.

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Former sanitation supervisor Keith “Casey” Chaffin died in May 2019. His last shift at Fairmont was less than a month earlier, April 15, Kettering school officials have said.

According to Casey Chaffin’s death certificate, he died from Legionella pneumonia, multi-system organ failure and acute systolic heart failure, a Montgomery County coroner’s spokesperson said in July.

After the second case was discovered, the district hired Solid Blend Water Management Solutions to test the water system at the high school.

In 2019, Montgomery County had three deaths due to Legionnaires’ disease, including Chaffin’s death. In 2020, there has been one death in February attributed to the disease.