No live legionella cells in second test at St. Columbkille Parish

New test results on church legionella

PARMA, OH (WOIO) - The second round of environmental testing conducted at St. Columbkille Parish have revealed the presence of dead legionella cells at the Parma church, but no live bacteria was found.

The samples, which were taken on July 26 from the church by the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, detected the dead cells from the basement's drinking fountain.

Although the test indicated the presence of non-viable legionella bacteria (dead cells) in the basement drinking fountain, the Board of Health has explained that legionella can naturally occur in freshwater environments and that the drinking fountain may remain in service.

Based on the results, the county's board of health recommends:

  • Discontinuing the use of the church's existing cooling tower as it could pose a significant health risk.
  • Developing a water management plan for all of the parish's water facilities.
  • Communicate with experts on the safest HVAC systems.

The church says that actions are already be taken to ensure the parishioner's safety.

As a proactive measure, the parish has already engaged Osborn Engineering to conduct a thorough review of the church's air conditioning system and to advise the parish regarding the implementation of the Board of Health's recommendations.  Osborn Engineering is a recognized expert in this field with expertise and experience in the management of legionella.

One woman died from legionella contamination and 11 other parishioners from St. Columbkille have been diagnosed. The age range for the confirmed cases range from 74 to 93 years of age.

The Ohio Department of Health describes legionella as a bacteria found naturally in the environment, usually in water. It is not spread from person-to-person and most people exposed do not become ill, according to the Ohio Department of Health. However, the Ohio Department of Health says breathing in the bacteria can cause Legionnaire's disease, a severe form of pneumonia.

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