Two employees at LaGuardia Community College in Queens have contracted Legionnaires' disease as a result of legionella bacteria in the hot water system, health officials say. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Thursday, Aug 2, 2012)
Two employees at LaGuardia Community College in Queens have contracted Legionnaires' disease as a result of legionella bacteria in the hot-water system, health officials say.
Legionnaires' is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches and headaches. The disease can be life-threatening, but is usually treatable with antibiotics.
The legionella exists in Building C at the school in Long Island City. Staff members learned in a school email Wednesday that two employees there have contracted Legionnaires in the past year.
But staffers interviewed Wednesday seemed unconcerned.
"I'm very comfortable," said employee Terik Tidwell. "This may be a small risk factor as far as my health and to the students' health."
Administrator Debra Nibod said, "We're very very proactive on things that happen here, so I'm not concerned at all."
Students said they hadn't heard anything about the Legionnaires risk Wednesday night.
Ryan Schiavone, an emergency medical technician studying at LaGuardia to be a paramedic, said he and fellow students didn't know about the finding.
"If there is an environmental hazard in this building, then the question is what other hazards are there that the students are exposed to?" said Schiavone.
A school spokeswoman told NBC 4 New York an email will go out to students Thursday.
CUNY officials said when they learned about the Legionnaires cases in June, they worked with the city health department to get test results on the building as soon as possible.
The Centers for Disease Control says Legionnaires does not spread person to person. Individuals contract it by breathing in a misty vapor that's contaminated.
The plan is to clean and chlorinate the hot water system, while the building remains open for business. CUNY says hospitals and other buildings have done that many times.
LaGuardia has a student enrollment of nearly 18,000 students. The fall semester starts next month.
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Published at 10:25 PM EDT on Aug 1, 2012