Legionnaires' Testing

June 19, 2018, 6:19 p.m. ET - Testing update

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 - Testing update

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
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.
Sampled. Awaiting Results
5057 Woodward Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Alumni House Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
Applebaum Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Atchinson Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
Chemistry Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Chemistry Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
Cohn Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
Community Arts Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Comp Svc Ctr Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
CS Mott Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
DeRoy Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
DeRoy Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
Education Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Elliman Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Elliman Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
FAB Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
Football Stadium Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
Freer House Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Ghafari Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results
Law School Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Lande Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Manoogian Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Mazurek Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
MCHT Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
MISB Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
MPSI Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Old Main Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Physics Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Prentis Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Purdy-Kresge Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Rackham Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
Simons Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
The Towers Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
University Towers Cooling tower Sampled. Awaiting Results
University Towers Potable Sampled. Awaiting Results