Discovery of Legionella bacteria sparks closure of Perry High School

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Carina Sonn

Posted on November 22, 2011 at 7:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 23 at 7:36 AM

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GILBERT, Ariz. -- The discovery of a bacteria that can cause a potentially deadly disease has forced the closure of a Gilbert high school.

Perry High School and the Perry branch of the Town of Gilbert Library were both shut down after tests detected the Legionella bacteria.

The tests were performed after a library employee developed whooping cough.

The bacteria can cause Legionnaires' disease, which is a type of lung infection.

While no illnesses have been reported at Perry High School, school officials say they are putting safety first.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease each year.

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease are similar to those of other forms of pneumonia, which makes it difficult to diagnose. A high fever, chills and a cough are among the most common symptoms. Muscle aches and headaches can be symptoms, as well.

Those symptoms general set in two to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria. A chest X-ray is required to diagnose Legionnaires' disease. There are also several lab tests that can detect the presence of the Legionella bacteria in the body.

While most cases of Legionnaires' disease can be treated with antibiotics, it can be serious, even deadly.

The Legionella bacteria got its name in 1976, when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion suffered from an outbreak of this disease.

The library will reopen Friday and classes will resume at Perry High Monday.

 
 

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