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Officials: Waco YMCA had no presence of Legionella bacteria in their water

Posted at 2:02 PM, Feb 26, 2019

WACO, TX — The Waco YMCA said after a certified lab took water samples from the pool, there was no presence of the Legionella bacteria.

According to the Waco YMCA, they hired an outside expert to test the center's water.

The Waco YMCA said two residents may have exposed the center to Legionnaire's disease back in February. This comes after the Waco McLennan County Public Health District said two people diagnosed with Legionnaire's Disease had visited the Waco Family YMCA within 10 days of onset of their symptoms.

During the investigation, the Waco YMCA closed the hot tub temporarily.

YMCA of Central Texas CEO Rodney Martin said the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District was investigating the exposure of the Legionella bacteria at the Waco Family YMCA on Harvey Road.

The YMCA put out a statement on Monday:

"I would like to commend our Aquatic Director and other staff for exceeding the health department’s standards with our pool and whirlpool maintenance. The YMCA has a water management program in place, but will work with a CDC ELITE Environmental Consultant to continue to monitor our water distribution system.

Our member’s health and well-being has always been a top priority for the YMCA. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused for our members during the past few weeks. The YMCA would like to thank you for your support over the years and we look forward to continuing to provide great service for many years to come."

Since 2014, there have been 23 reported Legionnaire's Disease cases in McLennan County, including three in February.

According to the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, there were seven laboratory confirmed cases between 2016 to 2018 involved people who stayed in the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Waco.

Chris Boyd is the general manager for building water health for NSF International. He said the global public health and safety organization, which has been in existence since 1944, is working with healthcare facilities and municipalities in the U.S. and Canada to prevent outbreaks.

"The local facility needs to have a strategy for preventative maintenance of its engineered water systems and it needs to be collecting the kind of environmental and water quality information that allows it to know when it has an amplification of risk and it responds to the amplification of risk rather than respond to incidents of sick or dead people," Boyd said.

Boyd said he worked for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in New York during the largest Legionella outbreak in New York City.

According to Boyd, outside of a combination of factors of engineered water systems, Legionella doesn't pose a risk to the public. He said if Legionella is paired with stagnant water that doesn't have chlorine or another type of disinfectant in its system, it can become an issue.

He also said entities should check areas where there is a combination of tepid water, including a cooling tower.

"Legionnaire disease is utterly preventable. It's only when you have an engineered water system in failure, failure to be maintained properly, that you can create the opportunities for this risk," Boyd said.

NSF International will host the second annual national Legionella Conference in Los Angeles in September.