MLK High alerts staff, students after maintenance worker contracts Legionnaires’ disease

A maintenance worker who performed duties at Martin Luther King High School is recovering from a case of Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

The employee, whose identity is being withheld, worked on heating and air conditioning units at the West Oak Lane school and McKinley Elementary School in North Philadelphia, according to a statement released this week by the Philadelphia School District.

“No other cases were reported as related to the schools. At this time, there is no indication that the employee contracted the disease at a District facility,” the district said.

The district has nonetheless tested both buildings for sources of Legionella, the bacteria that leads to Legionaire’s and is “awaiting final results.”

Legionaire’s is not spread from person to person, but via contact with water contaminated with Legionella.

“Although it was not required by [The Philadelphia Department of Public Health], the District tested potential Legionella sources (i.e., cooling tower and HVAC components) at both schools as a precaution,” the district said.

The district stated that further precautions, like mechanical-system water treatment, would be taken if the bacteria was found to be present in the water.

Tests at MLK High were negative; McKinley Elementary results are expected by the end of the week.

Alert will be issued

MLK Principal William Wade said Wednesday that letters informing staff and parents will be sent out along with robocalls.

“We’re getting educated on it and making sure everyone is aware of it,” said Wade.

Students return to class on Sept. 9.

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