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Legionnaires' bacteria found at 3 Batavia schools

Friday, October 05, 2012

Officials in Batavia have found traces of the bacteria which can cause Legionnaires' disease in three schools.

The school district has notified parents about the health issue at two elementary schools and a high school.

All of the schools -- Alice Gustafson and Hoover-Wood elementary schools, and Batavia High School -- were still open Friday.

Certain areas of the schools that tested positive for the bacteria were blocked off.

Batavia Public School District 101 leaders say all of the students are safe. No Legionnaires' cases have been reported at any of the three schools.

Doing proactive testing, District 101 administrators say that they found traces of legionella bacteria, which may cause Legionnaires' disease.

"That led us to communicate with everybody and talk to the Public Health Department to see what our intervention should be," said Jack Barshinger, Batavia public schools superintendent.

Traces of the bacteria were discovered in the Batavia High School girls' locker room, in a shower head. Traces were also found in facet screens in the two elementary school bathrooms.

"We turned off the water to those bathrooms and to the shower area at the high school and closed the bathrooms," said Barshinger. He added that the risk of anyone at the school contracting Legionnaires' disease is low. Experts remind the public that Legionnaires' is a disease that spreads through water vapors, and breathing them in near a fountain or a hot tub, not drinking water. It's not spread from person-to-person.

"Legionella is something that is commonly found in the environment. It's out there so when you test for it it's likely you'll find it. While it sounds scary the situation is under control," said Christopher Hoff, Kane County Health Department.

"At the advice of the health department, we're doing to intervene and do some cleaning this weekend," said Barshinger. "We thought it was more important that we take our time and make sure that we use proper chemicals."

Meanwhile, some parents say they are taking preventative measures. "We're going to be talking to our pediatrician and asking some questions and figuring out what we need to do to protect (my daughter)," said Jaime Schumacher, the mother of a student.

"It's a little disturbing, it's the first I've heard about it. I'm concerned for the kids but I feel confident the staff here has things under control," Fred Filiaggi, a father of a student.

Legionnaire's Symptoms:

  • Develop 2 to 14 days after exposure
  • Day One: Aches, chills, fever
  • Day Two: Coughing, trouble breathing chest pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion

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