Experts discuss Legionnaires' Disease threat in Milwaukee

contaminated cooling tanks suspected in last year's outbreak

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by Michele McCormack

MILWAUKEE-There are major concerns in Milwaukee that when buildings start cranking up the air conditioning this summer, the potentially deadly Legionnaires' Disease will rear its head again.

Those attending a symposium on the threat Wednesday recall last year's outbreak.

Some 60 cases reported from June to September. Several patients had to be hospitalized.

Contaminated cooling towers were identified as the culprit.

Now the challenge is working with engineers and businesses to make those towers safer. 

As Paul Biedryzcki of the Milwaukee Health Department told CBS 58 News:

"That means working with them collaboratively to develop protocols and procedures for the start up and maintenance of these cooling towers, which tend to serve as reservoirs for legionella."
 

The meeting was the first of its kind in the region.

Experts warned that the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' Disease can travel a couple of miles on mere water droplets.

 

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