Schools in NW Indiana Closed After Legionella Bacteria Found

The school corporation said an employee "self-reported a positive test for Legionnaires' disease"

Two northwest Indiana schools were closed Friday after an employee tested positive for Legionnaires' disease and legionella bacteria was found at the buildings, school officials said. 

According to Duneland School Corporation, the water system at Chesterton Middle School and the cooling tower at Westchester Intermediate School both had traces of legionella bacteria, test results showed. 

Both schools and the Duneland School Corportation Administration Center were closed Friday "in the interest of ensuring the safety and health of all students and staff." Students were told to conduct an elearning day instead of attending school. 

The school corporation said an employee "self-reported a positive test for Legionnaires' disease." 

It remains unclear how or where the disease was contracted, school officials said, but the district said it arranged for testing in the employee's workplace and other district facilities that were "characterized as high-risk for this type of bacteria due to the physical characterisitcs of the facility."

The test results came back Thursday evening and the Porter County Health Department was notified, school officials said. 

"We are conducting further checks of the water systems and air systems to determine if and where all sources within the school linked to the issue exists," Duneland School Corporation said in a letter to parents. "At this time, DCS is working with an environmental company to immediately abate any environmental hazard to ensure the safety of students and staff."

The school urged any student or staff member with pneumonia-like symptoms to seek medical attention. 

"The safety of our students and staff is our primary concern," the letter read. 

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