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‘Elevated’ levels of Legionella found during new testing in state building

3 people in San Diego have died this year after getting Legionnaires’ disease
Mission Valley State building
Posted at 3:16 PM, May 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-08 19:45:13-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — New testing on a state building that houses government offices including the department of public health has found “elevated” levels of a strain of Legionella.

Legionella bacteria causes Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia that can be fatal, especially for immunocompromised individuals and seniors.

The CDC says people can get sick when they breathe in small droplets of water or swallow water containing Legionella.

The new tests on the building in Mission Valley at 7575 Metropolitan Drive showed elevated levels of legionella in various faucets on April 17th and April 18th, said Monica Hassan, deputy director of public affairs for the California Department of General Services.

“We wanted to be safe, so we re-tested the building and then did a remediation.”

The elevated levels found are a significant development because previous testing in February only showed trace amounts of the bacteria.

The Department of General Services shut the building down on April 10th after someone associated with the building reported having the illness.

The CDC says there is no known safe level of Legionella in building water systems. Cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been associated with very low levels of Legionella in building water systems.

Hassan said the San Diego building is the only one in the department’s portfolio where someone has reported a positive case of the illness.

She said it has reopened to the public and employees following a thorough cleaning that included chemical flushing of the building’s system and the installation of medical-grade filters on all faucets.

“Public health officials have assured us that we’ve done the right things to make it safe,” she said.

Three people in San Diego County have died so far this year after getting Legionnaires Disease, said Fernanda Lopez Halvorson a county spokesperson.

She said the county is not investigating the state building.

The county has seen 28 cases so far this year compared to 24 at the same time last year. Lopez Halvorson said no outbreaks or clusters have been identified this year.

Hassan said the department will host a town hall on Tuesday to address concerns from employees who work inside the building.