By Jory D. Lange, Jr.

The CDC closed several buildings it leases in Atlanta after finding legionella bacteria in the plumbing. “During the recent closures at our leased space in Atlanta, working through the General Services Administration (GSA), CDC directed the landlord to take protective actions,” CDC told CNN.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria/CDC

“Despite their best efforts, CDC has been notified that Legionella, which can cause Legionnaires’ Disease, is present in a cooling tower as well as in some water sources in the buildings. Out of an abundance of caution, we have closed these buildings until successful remediation is complete.”

Prolonged building closures due to COVID may increase the risk of legionella and Legionnaires disease outbreaks.  Legionella bacteria thrive in stagnant or warm water.  Legionnaires Disease and COVID present a serious ongoing health risk in the US. Particularly as long empty office buildings reopen and dormant plumbing systems are turned back on.  Warm water that has been stagnating in building plumbing systems for months may provide an ideal breeding ground for legionella bacteria.

Fortunately, no one has reported contracting Legionnaires disease from contact with the buildings leased by the CDC.