Top Chesterfield health official says public should not be alarmed despite 10 confirmed Legionnaires’ cases

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — A rare bacteria that can cause a serious disease has been found at several school, as well as other locations, in Chesterfield County. 8News spoke with officials at the Chesterfield Health District Wednesday to learn what locals need to know.

A doctor with the Chesterfield Health District said they are not labeling the discovery of the Legionella bacteria in the county as a public health concern and that people should not be alarmed.

The county typically averages three cases of Legionnaires’ a year. There have been 10 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the county since the start of May.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) visited the Chesterfield area to try and pinpoint where people may have come in contact with the bacteria. Legionnaires’ can cause a serious type of pneumonia, according to the CDC.

“We are simply continuing an ongoing investigation,” Dr. Alex Samuel, director of the Chesterfield Health District, told 8News. “As we learn more about the sites that are positive for Legionella bacteria.”

The areas that have tested positive include three schools, Johnston-Willis Hospital and several businesses. Dr. Samuel said that the existence of the bacteria does not mean people came in contact with it.

Confirmed locations where the bacteria was found:

  • Richmond Free Zone
  • Johnston & Willis Hospital
  • Reynolds Metal Company
  • U.S. Defense Supply Company
  • Midlothian Middle School
  • Falling Creek Middle School
  • Greenfield Elementary School

“Throughout this investigation, we have been talking about this not being a public health emergency. That is simply not true,” Samuel said.

Dr. Samuel says if you feel sick you should not take any chances.

“Contact your physicians if you have symptoms consistent with pneumonia,” Samuel said. “That would be fever, chills, shortness of breath.”

Officials at Johnston-Willis Hospital told 8News that they been working with the health department to clean the area where the bacteria was found. They also said there is no evidence of any patients who were affected.

The CDC will continue its investigation.

Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story.

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