CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia health officials have confirmed 12 cases of legionnaires disease in Chesterfield County.
As of now, there’s no confirmed connection between the 12 cases confirmed by health officials and the legionella bacteria found in at least seven Chesterfield County Schools over the summer. Still, locals worry about how the bacteria can affect the community.
Health officials in Chesterfield County previously told 8News the bacteria is airborne and may travel up to two miles. Residents who live near some of the schools that have tested positive for legionella bacteria say they’re concerned.
Bridget Dougherty, who lives near Greenfield Elementary, said she had no idea about the impact the bacteria could potentially have on her health.
“I didn’t know much about legionella, but I knew it wasn’t good,” said Bridget Dougherty, a Chesterfield mother.
Dougherty has a daughter and son enrolled at Greenfield Elementary, one of the first schools that tested positive, for legionella bacteria.
“We’re really, very close to the school and there’s a hospital close by and there’s a nursing home on the corner,” said Dougherty, who lives less than a mile away from the school.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, legionella is more likely to affect those over the age of 50 and those with weak immune systems.
People who breathe in mist that contains legionella are more likely to get sick. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever and headaches and may begin two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria.
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“It’s not not serious, it’s a serious problem,” Dougherty said. “I’m not even sure a lot of people know they’re at risk.”
Chesterfield’s school division tells 8News they have treated, cleaned and tested every cooling tower on school property. At last week’s school board meeting, officials went on to say there is no health crisis.
But Dougherty isn’t buying the reassurance.
“I feel like it’s a little insensitive for the school system to insinuate because our kids are healthy and young that they’re not affected and they’re not thinking about the community as a whole.”
You can find more information about Legionnaires’ disease here.