August 2, 2019
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — Chesterfield County continues to monitor the work of the Virginia Department of Health and Chesterfield County Public Schools to investigate the source of illness regarding 10 confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease, a type of pneumonia, in northeastern Chesterfield.
An onsite field test and subsequent tests in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory of samples taken from a cooling tower at Greenfield Elementary School have confirmed the presence of the LP1 strain of the Legionella bacteria, a strain known to potentially cause illness. Though the LP1 strain was present in the cooling tower at Greenfield, it has not been confirmed that the bacteria at Greenfield is responsible for making anyone sick.
The county understands that the school division is working diligently to remediate the situation at Greenfield Elementary. Moreover, subsequent tests at Greenfield will ensure the school is safe when reopened. As part of the Health Department’s investigation, other county facilities have been visited and officials have determined no further action at those facilities is necessary.
More broadly, the issue at Greenfield is an example of why the county government is so concerned with Chesterfield County Public Schools’ backlog of facility maintenance and why the county continues to offer its assistance to schools to address such matters. Care and upkeep of school facilities is the responsibility of the school division, which means the county government has limited access to information and/or the ability to provide maintenance.
“The county is actively working to better understand the school division’s inspection regimen for facilities and to establish uniform protocols moving forward to ensure a more even and appropriate standard of care for publicly owned assets,” said Leslie Haley, chair of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. “To that end, we have engaged the county’s Risk Management and Internal Audit functions to provide recommendations for best practices moving forward.”
While those most affected by Legionnaires disease tend to be older adults and/or those with underlying health issues, anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should seek medical care.
Chesterfield County will continue to keep the public informed as new information becomes available from the Virginia Department of Health and Chesterfield County Public Schools. The county’s Risk Management and Internal Audit departments will consider such information in their ongoing reviews.