GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) had to temporarily close its factory in North Carolina earlier this week after Legionella bacteria were detected in a cooling tower.
The plant, which is located in Zebulon, North Carolina, produces medications for respiratory infections among many others.
According to GSK representative Marti Skold Jordan, “the cooling tower is a standalone structure which does not come into contact with products manufactured at the facility.”
All employees at the facility were sent home and will not return to work until the cooling towers have been disinfected and retested.
Janet Stout, PhD, director of Special Pathogens Lab in Pittsburgh, thought that GSK was being overly cautious in its closure. She said that many cooling towers can have traces of Legionella bacteria, but trace levels will not necessarily lead to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
“You just need to adjust your water treatment program to get those numbers [Legionella bacteria] down,” said Dr Stout.
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