Legionnaires' Testing

July 16, 2018, 3:42 p.m. ET

Dear campus community,

As you may know from our prior communications, we have been undergoing an extensive water-testing program across campus since becoming aware of an employee with Legionnaires' disease. While the majority of our tests have shown safe or nondetectable levels of legionella, areas that tested positive have been under remediation (i.e., plumbing and water management changes to eliminate or mitigate Legionella). While most of the remediation has been completed, some projects require taking rooftop cooling towers out of service temporarily, which affects air conditioning in those buildings.

In the case of the Towers Residence Suites, we have decided to replace the rooftop cooling tower, which will require several more weeks before the building will be reoccupied. Today, we received preliminary test results for the rooftop cooling tower of the Student Center Building, which also showed signs of Legionella, though at lower levels than the rooftop cooling tower on the Towers Residence Suites. Ordinarily, we would treat this level chemically and monitor results, but we are taking every precaution to ensure safety and have decided to take the unit out of service for several days to perform a combination of chemical shock treatments and industrial cleaning. Unfortunately, this will compromise the air conditioning while the unit is out of service in some areas of the building, particularly the upper floors.

The Student Center will remain open for events, and we apologize for any inconvenience or discomfort. Temporary cooling will be installed on the second floor and in the food court, and other areas in the building have independent cooling. Permanent occupants of the building will be notified by their management regarding any adjustments in work scheduling based on building temperatures.

As you know, the safety of our university community and guests is always our top priority, and we continue to coordinate with the city and state health departments as we work to eliminate the risk of Legionella on our campus. In the meantime, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service noted recently that Michigan was experiencing an increase in Legionellosis across the state. We hope the learning we accumulate and share can help address this situation now and in the future. 

Regards,

Michael G. Wright
Vice President for Communications and Chief of Staff


July 1, 2018, 12:04 p.m. ET - Update

PathCon Laboratories has tested, and retested when necessary, all of the cooling towers on campus. With the exception of the Towers Residential Suites, all of the cooling towers have extremely low or non-detectable levels of Legionella bacterium. The cooling tower on the Towers Residential Suites will remain shut down until we receive results confirming non-detectable levels. As a result, we remain unable to provide air conditioning in that building. Guests scheduled to stay in the Towers in the meantime are being provided other accommodations. The university is working in coordination with the Detroit Health Department, which is monitoring our remediation efforts and test results.   


June 29, 2018, 3:32 p.m. ET - Update

Preliminary verbal results from last week's testing of the cooling towers in the Towers Residential Suite indicate elevated levels of Legionella bacterium. The remediation team is already working on it. The plan is to enhance the remediation protocol based on advice from our outside experts and retest the cooling tower. We'll continue to refine our remediation process until we get consistently acceptable results.

Because the fans on the cooling towers have been shut off during the remediation process, air conditioning will not be available in the Towers until early Saturday evening. Air-conditioned spaces are available in the adjacent student center.


June 27, 2018, 3:56 p.m. ET

On June 27, Wayne State received final results for water samples collected from campus June 9-14.

The majority of samples had non-detectable levels, however, a number of locations (in the chart below) had low or elevated levels in potable water and/or cooling tower sources. The university is taking action to remediate, where appropriate, based on recommendations from its outside experts and industry best practices.

Regular follow-up testing will continue until the university is confident that an effective, long-term water management program is in place. Periodic testing to verify the new protocols are effective will remain ongoing.

There remains no conclusive evidence that the disease was transmitted from campus to the employee diagnosed with Legonnaires' disease, and we have not had any additional reports of Legionnaires' disease from anyone on campus.


June 19, 2018, 6:19 p.m. ET

On June 19, Wayne State received additional preliminary results from its independent legionella experts, PathCon Laboratories. While the majority of samples had non-detectable levels, several locations (in the chart below) indicated elevated levels in potable water sources. Based on recommendations from its outside experts, the university is taking immediate, preventative action to remediate these locations while awaiting final results.  


June 18, 2018, 4:41 p.m. ET

As you recall, a Wayne State employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease in late May. The employee is recovering and is back to work. At the time of the employee's diagnosis, we began testing a number of campus buildings in an attempt to identify potential sources of the bacterium that can cause the disease. Although we do not have conclusive evidence that the disease was transmitted from campus, our preliminary results identified legionella in several buildings and we began remediation procedures immediately.

It is important to remember that legionella is a naturally occurring bacterium that exists in lakes, rivers and other water sources, and only becomes dangerous in high concentrations that become aerosolized and are breathed into the lungs. The concentration that is considered dangerous depends on many variables, including the amount and type of exposure and the health of the individual exposed.

With the help of an outside company of experts that specialize in the identification, prevention and remediation of legionella, we are conducting a comprehensive, risk-based approach to sampling. We are still in the process of collecting samples, and it takes seven to 10 days from when a sample is taken to receive results. We are coordinating this work with the Detroit Department of Health and State public health officials. In the meantime, it's important to emphasize the following:

  • We have not had any additional reports of Legionnaires' disease from anyone on campus.
  • Legionella bacteria are commonly found in the building plumbing. It is anticipated we will find it at trace levels in some locations. The presence of legionella at trace levels does not typically pose a risk to human health.
  • Legionnaires' disease is not spread through person-to-person contact, nor is it contracted by drinking water.
  • Individuals without known risk factors are not as susceptible to contracting the disease. Risk factors include being 50 years of age or older, a smoker or former smoker, having diabetes, chronic lung, kidney or liver disease or a compromised immune system.
  • Symptoms of the disease may include cough, fever, chills, muscle pain, shortness of breath and headaches. In some cases, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur. See your primary care physician if you have any of these symptoms.

Our outside experts - PathCon Laboratories – will soon complete the initial sample collection process. Additional samples will be collected as needed to investigate and remediate identified issues, and verify that corrective actions are effective.

Samples are sent for analysis and the results will be posted in the table below, which will be updated weekly. Those results will determine future courses of action. We will continue to provide updates as they become available.

The results received on June 14, 2018 were from samples taken by PathCon on May 31 and June 1.

The cooling towers (part of a building's HVAC system used to transfer heat from the building to outdoors) that tested positive were addressed with either a "shock" treatment of chemicals, much like swimming pools are treated with chlorine, or an adjustment of the existing water treatment plan. Water in cooling towers is not the same water that you drink; the system is isolated. Air from cooling towers is directed away from the building, not into the building.

The potable, or drinkable water sources, that had detectable levels of legionella were immediately taken out of service while the systems were flushed, the hot water temperatures were increased, and plumbing system components were cleaned, sanitized, or replaced, as needed.

The men's bathroom in the Cohn Building is now open.

The men's bathroom in Scott Hall was re-opened temporarily, but had to be closed again when a valve on a hot water tank failed. The valve has been replaced and the bathroom is expected to re-open on June 19.

The private bathroom in FAB remains out of service until its hot water tank can be replaced.


Building test schedule

Building Source Status
July 13, 2018
5057 Woodward Cooling Tower Corrective Action Completed. Awaiting results of retesting.
Anthony Wayne Drive Apts Cooling Tower Awaiting results
Anthony Wayne Drive Apts Potable Awaiting results
Atchison Hall Cooling Tower Awaiting results
Chatsworth Potable Corrective Action Completed. Awaiting results of retesting.
Cohn Building Potable Low levels. Corrective action ongoing.
Decorative fountain south of Mort Harris Potable Awaiting results
Education Cooling Tower Corrective Action Completed. Awaiting results of retesting.
Elliman Potable Not detected.
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building Potable Low levels. Corrective action ongoing.
Ghafari Hall Cooling Tower Awaiting results
Ibio Lawn Irrigation Awaiting results
Ibio Potable Awaiting results
Matthaei Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
MidMed 2nd floor Potable Awaiting results
Mort Harris Potable Corrective Action Completed. Awaiting results of retesting.
Mortuary Science Potable Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
MPSI Cooling Tower Low levels. Corrective action ongoing.
Police Department Potable Low levels. Corrective action ongoing.
Purdy-Kresge Library Cooling Tower Awaiting results
Scott Hall Potable Awaiting results
Student Center Building Cooling Tower Awaiting results
The Towers Residential Suites Potable Awaiting results
UGL Cooling Tower Awaiting results
June 27, 2018
5057 Woodward Cooling tower Legionella detected. Corrective action initiated.
Alumni House Potable Not detected.
Atchinson Potable Not detected.
Chatsworth Potable Preliminary results - Legionella detected, preventive action initiated.
Chemistry Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action ongoing.
Chemistry Potable Not detected.
Cohn Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
Community Arts Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Comp Svc Ctr Cooling tower Not detected.
CS Mott Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
DeRoy Cooling tower Not detected.
DeRoy Potable Not detected.
Education Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Elliman Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Elliman Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building Cooling tower Not detected.
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
FAB Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
FAB Lawn irrigation Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
Football Stadium Potable Not detected.
Freer House Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Ghafari Potable Not detected.
Lande Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Law School Cooling tower Not detected.
Manoogian Cooling tower Not detected.
Matthaei Center Cooling tower Not detected.
Matthaei Center Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
Matthaei Center Swimming pools Not detected.
Mazurek Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
McGregor Reflecting pond Not detected.
MCHT Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
MISB Cooling tower Not detected.
Mort Harris Recreation and Fitness Center Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
MPSI Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Old Main Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Physics Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Police Department Potable Preliminary results - Legionella detected, preventive action initiated.
Prentis Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Purdy-Kresge Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action initiated.
Rackham Cooling tower Not detected.
SCB Cooling tower Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
Scott Hall Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
Simons Cooling tower Not detected.
Thompson House Cooling tower Not detected.
Thompson House Potable Not detected.
The Towers Residential Suites Cooling tower Not detected.
The Towers Residential Suites Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
UGL Cooling tower Legionella detected. Corrective action ongoing.
University Towers Cooling tower Not detected.
University Towers Potable Not detected.
June 19, 2018
The Towers Residential Suites Potable Preliminary results - Legionella detected, preventive action underway
Mort Harris Recreation and Fitness Center Potable Preliminary results - Legionella detected, preventive action underway
Matthaei Center Potable Preliminary results - Legionella detected, preventive action underway
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building Potable Preliminary results - Legionella detected, preventive action underway
Scott Hall Potable Preliminary results - Legionella detected, preventive action underway
June 14, 2018
AAB Potable Not detected
Atchison Cooling tower Not detected
Bio Sci Cooling tower Not detected
Chem Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action taken.
Cohn Cooling tower Not detected
Cohn Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action taken.
DeRoy Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action taken.
Education Cooling tower Legionella detected. Corrective action taken.
Eng / EDC Cooling tower Not detected
FAB Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action taken.
FAB Potable Not detected
Ghafari Cooling tower Not detected
Law Library Cooling tower Not detected
Purdy-Kresge Cooling tower Legionella detected. Corrective action taken.
Scott Hall Cooling tower Not detected
Scott Hall Potable Legionella detected. Corrective action taken.
SCB Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action taken.
SCB Potable Not detected
Shapero Cooling tower Not detected
The Towers Cooling tower Legionella detected. Corrective action taken.
UGL Cooling tower Low levels. Corrective action taken.