Midlothian Middle School closed Wednesday after Legionella bacteria found

Posted at 7:52 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 23:39:45-04

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- Midlothian Middle will be closed on Wednesday "out of an abundance of caution" as the school division investigates test results that showed higher-than-expected levels of Legionella on an outside cooling tower.

The scheduled sixth-grade camp and library night will be canceled, the school announced in a letter sent to parents Tuesday.

There are 10 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease among the nearly 345,000 residents living in Chesterfield County.

The Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaire’s disease, a type of pneumonia. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) said the disease is “more common and more severe” in people who are 50-years or older, current/former smokers, those with “underlying lung disease (such as emphysema), and people with weakened immune systems.”

VDH added the bacteria occurs naturally in the environment and grows best in warm water, such as is found in air conditioning cooling towers. “The bacteria get into the air when a mist or spray of water is created. People breathe in the mist that has been contaminated with the bacteria and then they might become sick. In general, the bacteria do not spread from person to person.”

No Midlothian Middle students or staff have reported any related illnesses to the school division or the county health department, the school reported.

Representatives from the school division said that they have taken measures to disinfect the outside cooling tower.