PARMA -- The Cuyahoga County Health Board says a second sampling of water sources inside Saint Columbkille Church yielded no live legionella bacteria.

The board says the samples were obtained from air conditioning units, a drinking fountain and sinks on July 26. It was the second round of testing after several parishioners were exposed to legionella.

Officials on Aug. 1 said the first set of samples also found no live legionella bacteria.

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The board also says the second round of tests found non-viable legionella bacteria in samples taken from a basement drinking fountain, but those cells are dead. Non-viable legionella can be found in a water sample as legionella occurs naturally in fresh water environments. It can become a health concern when it grows and spreads in building water systems, the board says.

The Ohio Department of Health issued a series of recommendations to the church to prevent future outbreaks:

  • Discontinuing use of the existing cooling tower as its present design, location, maintenance and operation pose a significant health risk
  • Developing and implementing a comprehensive water management plan for all of the water sources at the parish facilities which complies with nationally-accepted standards and guidelines
  • Engaging qualified experts in order to instigate best management practices related to the design, maintenance and operation of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems located on the parish campus

Legionella is a bacteria found in air conditioning and central heating systems that causes Legionnaires disease. Legionnaires' disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to legionella bacteria, according to Mayo Clinic.

Eleven cases of legionella were confirmed within the parish community last month and one person, a 93-year-old woman, died from Legionnaires' disease July 5.

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