Virginia Department of Health can’t determine cause of Legionnaires’ outbreak in Chesterfield County

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Health told the Chesterfield County School Board that it couldn’t find a definitive link between the 13 Legionnaires’ cases in Chesterfield and the Legionella bacteria found in several cooling towers.

Health officials gave a presentation about their investigation at Monday night’s school board meeting. They said no one has reported getting Legionnaires’ since July, and their investigation into the outbreak is complete.

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The VDH also revealed it tested several private businesses for Legionella bacteria in the course of its investigation. Johnston Willis Hospital, the Richmond Ice Zone, Kaiser Aluminum, and the U.S. Defense Supply Center all tested positive for the LP-1 strain which is the most severe form of the bacteria.

In a report released on Oct. 8 the county confirmed that one cooling tower “at the County Administration Building had a positive result for Legionella pneumophila serotype 1 (Lp1).” The report states the positive result “was at the lowest detectable level.”

Five Chesterfield schools tested positive for LP-1 while others tested positive for the less severe LP-2 strain.

RELATED: Chesterfield elementary school closed as health officials investigate presence of Legionella bacteria

Chesterfield County Public Schools previously said it didn’t test the cooling towers more often, despite warnings to do so, because of a lack of funding from the county. Now, the school district will test and maintain the cooling towers weekly.

The Virginia Department of Health says cases of Legionnaires’ will appear every year, but the 13 cases that appeared this year are above average. VDH will continue to monitor for new clusters of the disease through the end of the year.

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