Wayne State University checking faculty building for Legionnaires' disease after employee diagnosed

Legionnaires' disease not transmitted via person-to-person contact

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DETROIT – Wayne State University will be checking the Faculty Administration Building out of "an abundance of caution" after an employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.

According to a statement from Chief of Staff Michael Wright, it is "very unlikely that this person contracted the disease from a campus source."

Officials said one of the rooftop air handling units that lets air into the building is being shut down and cleaned as a precautionary measure. All cooling towers at the FAB are being sampled for legionella.

A faculty expert began initial inspections of the building Tuesday morning. Early indications are that the FAB infrastructure is unlikely to be the source, Wayne State police said.

Legionnaires' disease is not transmitted via person-to-person contact. It is a freshwater-borne bacterium. It is often associated with large or complex water systems, such as those found in hospitals, hotels and cruise ships.

The most likely sources of infection include potable water used for showering, cooling towers in large air conditioning units, decorative fountains and hot tubs. People can get Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria.

Wright said the building's HVAC system will be reviewed Tuesday.

Symptoms of the disease include cough, fever, chills and muscle aches. In some cases, pneumonia may develop.

People at increased risk of contracting the disease are those 50 years or older; current or former smokers; people with a chronic lung disease; people with weak immune systems or who take drugs that weaken the immune system ; people with cancer; and people with underlying illnesses, such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure.

Anyone with the symptoms of Legionnaires' disease is asked to make an appointment with their doctor.

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