Tests Negative For Legionella Bacteria Following Outbreak At Parma Church

Exterior St. Columbkille church in Parma which tested negative for legionella bacteria [Google Earth]
St. Columbkille church in Parma tested negative for legionella bacteria [Google Earth]
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Tests for legionella at St. Columbkille Parish have come back negative. The drinking fountain, air conditioning units, and hand sinks were tested after 11 cases of Legionnaires’ disease, including one fatal, were linked to the Parma church building earlier this summer.

Non-viable legionella bacteria, dead cells, were found in a drinking fountain, but the bacteria can be found in any building’s water or air cooling systems, says Rick Novickis with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, which conducted the tests.

"It’s out there everywhere around us in the environment; it occurs naturally in freshwater environments. And the key is to make sure you’re minimizing the potential of any health concerns by having this bacteria be introduced, grow, and spread inside a building’s water distribution system," Novickis said.

Novickis says signs point to the church air conditioning system as the main source of the outbreak, and it will remain out of service until it has met the Board of Health’s recommendations.

A statement from the Diocese of Cleveland says, "the parish will continue to work closely with its consulting experts and provide updates to the Board of Health."

It will continue to hold Mass, and its school will open in August. 

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