CDC finds Legionella bacteria in Harvey Hall water samples, City says it’s not the same strain that caused outbreak

CDC finds Legionella bacteria in Harvey Hall water samples, City says it’s not the same strain that caused outbreak
Harvey Convention Center in Tyler is closed on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. The City temporarily closed the event center because of a possible link between the building and a Legionnaires' outbreak that has killed one person. (Blake Holland/KLTV Multimedia Journalist)

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The City of Tyler has released an updated statement regarding the cleanup of Harvey Hall’s plumbing system:

The City of Tyler has been notified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that, though testing for Legionella is positive at Harvey Hall, the bacteria strain found in samples from Harvey Hall was not consistent with the strain that caused the Legionnaires’ disease cases present in our community.

Due to the presence of Legionella bacteria detected within the Harvey Hall plumbing system, the City of Tyler will continue to move forward with its short-term remediation plan, followed by a long-term ongoing management plan.

“The City is taking an aggressive and proactive approach to mitigating the risk associated with Legionella,” said George Roberts, Northeast Texas Public Health District’s chief executive officer. “We discussed these measures with the CDC and both agencies support the City’s plan of action.”

The City has hired East Texas Water Quality to perform the remediation process. The City has contracted with ERI Consulting, Inc. for added inspection and oversight of the process. This process will begin Friday, Nov. 22. Additionally flushing will occur Saturday, Nov. 23 with testing to follow on Sunday, Nov. 24.

According to the CDC, Legionella is a common bacteria occurring naturally in freshwater and manmade environments. People can contract Legionnaires’ disease when they either breathe in mist or accidentally swallow water into the lungs containing the Legionella bacteria. Those at increased risk are adults 50 years or older, current or former smokers, and people with a weakened immune system from chronic illness. Common sources of infection include decorative fountains and hot tubs.

As part of their short-term remediation plan, the City will disconnect the hot water system in Harvey Hall as a further precaution. The City will continue to perform testing once remediation is completed to ensure safe levels within the system. Moving forward, no devices that aerosolize/vaporize water will be allowed within the facility.

“The City will continue to follow the plan laid out by our consultants for the Harvey Hall plumbing system,” said City Manager Edward Broussard. “This will ensure we are adhering to best practices that keep the risk of bacteria growth low.”

With the approval of NET Health and CDC, Harvey Hall Convention Center will re-open its doors to staff and the public on Monday, Nov. 25.

“These measures mitigate the health risk to the public,” said Roberts. “With these measures in place, we support the reopening of Harvey Hall.”

RELATED:

Two known Legionnaires’ patients were in the same part of Harvey Hall

NET Health: Person with confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease dies

Copyright 2019 KLTV. All rights reserved.