Mason Moor Primary School in Southampton, England was closed after Legionella bacteria were found in the school’s water system during testing; the school will stay closed until Thursday, Jan. 16 because the level of bacteria found was above the Health and Safety Executive threshold.
The water system is currently being disinfected and test results are expected on Wednesday; these results will be an indicator of whether or not the water at the school is safe.
Siam Smith (the school head teacher) and Graham Talbot (head of Southampton City Council) released a joint statement to parents saying, “We would like to assure all concerned that the identification of Legionella in this instance comes on the back of a robust programme of water quality testing that the school has been rigorous in the execution of its duties in this respect.
“It should also be noted that the detection of Legionella bacteria in a school water system does not itself represent an immediate hazard if there is no chance of bacteria becoming airborne.
“In line with best practice, the school has been closed as a precautionary measure, but parents should not be unduly concerned.
“Children are considered to be low risk for infection. School employees tend to be higher risk, particularly if smokers and/or with a suppressed immune system from illness.”
Persons most at risk for contracting Legionnaires’ disease are:
- Older individuals (50 years or older)
- Current and previous smokers
- Individuals with a chronic lung disease (i.e. COPD or emphysema)
- Individuals with a weak immune system due to diseases like cancer, diabetes, or kidney failure
- Individuals who take drugs that suppress the immune system (i.e. chemotherapy or medications after transplant operation
If the test results still show elevated levels of Legionella, the school will stay closed for a longer period of time.