by Jonathan Kaupanger
The Army says two employees at the Brooke Army Medical Center show signs of having been exposed to the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.
The two worked in an administrative building next to the medical center on Ft. Sam Houston, near San Antonio, Texas. Discovery of the infections led medical center leaders to temporarily relocate 200 employees — while the building in which they had worked is tested in an effort to find the source of the bacteria that causes the disease.
“We have completed initial testing of the water systems and all of those tests have come back negative so far,” said Brigadier General Jeff Johnson, commander of the medical center. “We have no information that anybody else has been exposed or is at risk.”
The Army says it is contacting everyone who records show entered the building where the two employees work during the past 60 days — and asking if any are experiencing Legionnaire’s-like symptoms.
They say the water system on Ft. Sam Houston is monitored daily. During June, July and December of 2016, however, the Fort failed tests required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The information submitted to TCEQ was missing routine chemical monitoring for chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide is used to fight germs like Legionella in drinking water. Late or incomplete reports are considered a test failure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella are found naturally in freshwater environments. The disease is typically not spread from person to person. Normally it is transmitted by breathing in a mist or vapor that contains the bacteria. The CDC reports that most healthy people are at low risk of contracting the disease.