This week starts the beginning of a new school year in Maryland and the District of Columbia metro area. Most schools systems have elected to start the school year using a distance learning platform like Zoom. However, some of the executive level staff members are required to go into the school buildings. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not the only disease that may be lurking in the air. Since some schools have been closed for up to five months, the plumbing, pipes, and water in the bathrooms and other areas in schools may have Legionella lurking in the water and pipes. Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, which can be fatal for some people, who are older or have compromised immune systems.
It is important for school systems to have their maintenance staff check the water supply and pipes for Legionella bacteria and mold, prior to reopening school buildings after a long period of building inactivity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed a Toolkit: Developing a Water Management Program to Reduce Legionella Growth and Spread in Buildings, to help mitigate the risks for Legionnaires’ disease.
I recommend that all staff members wear a three-layer mask when using the restrooms in school buildings, to protect themselves from COVID-19, mold spores, and from Legionella bacteria. A mask should also be worn when washing your hands in school bathrooms. In addition, all water faucets should be turned off in school buildings, to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and Legionella bacteria.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018, April 30) Toolkit: Developing a Water Management Program to Reduce Legionella Growth and Spread in Buildings. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/wmp/toolkit/index.html
Disclosure: (I am a writer and editor for the National Institutes of Health. Information contained in this blog post are not associated with my role at NIH).