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Bacteria Skips Classes, Buildings At COC

COClogoAfter a minor scare last month, tests have concluded that College of the Canyons is free of Legionella bacteria.

In April, college spokeswoman Sue Bozman told KHTS that one female employee who worked in an office on the third floor of Seco Hall was sick and had tested positive for Legionnaires, according to her doctor. (Read the original story here)

"She developed pneumonia, which was diagnosed as Legionnaires', so we called a company that does testing of facilities specifically this kind of bacterium," Bozman explained.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Legionanaires' disease was first identified in 1976 as the result of an outbreak of pneumonia at an American Legion convention. It is a severe form of pneumonia caused by a bacterium known as legionella.

The tests, conducted by Forensic Analytical Consulting Services, are now complete. Below are their findings:

“In summary, results indicate that conditions within the domestic water system do not put the system at risk of promoting the growth of Legionella bacteria. Sample results did not indicate an amplification of Legionella bacteria in the domestic water system or the cooling towers. Therefore, exposure and contraction of disease due to exposure to Legionella bacteria in this workplace area would be considered unlikely. Per OSHA technical manual, no action is necessary based on Forensic Analytical Consulting Services findings . . . . Under these circumstances noted above, OSHA has stated that it can be assumed that the site is not the origin of the identified case.”

Bozman said that the company was comprehensive in its research.

“From all the testing, only trace amounts of bacteria (less than 1 CFU/mL) were found, located in two sink faucets, one in Bonelli Hall Room 330 and one in the Financial Aid office sink on the first floor of Seco Hall. The amount found is a trace amount that does not require any mitigation measures according to OSHA. This amount is within the normal quantity of bacteria that simply exists in our environment in locations where there is water. Also, it is not the form of Legionella bacteria that normally cause pneumonia or disease in people.

In addition, tests conducted on a second employee after their illness indicated the possibility of Legionnaire’s were negative.

“After reading the information we distributed about this disease, two additional employees, who work in Seco Hall and were concerned about possible exposure to Legionella bacteria, have been tested in our Health Center,” Bozman said. “The tests show that neither of these employees has been exposed to this disease. No additional cases have been identified.”

Bozman explained that during the Legionnaire’s testing, the college’s insurance company evaluated the building for any problems and made recommendations for repairs. Leaks in the roof and air conditioning units and ductwork at Seco Hall are now being repaired to make them watertight. Because of the repairs, classes will not be scheduled in Seco Hall during the summer. Once repairs are complete, all normal activities will resume.