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Death Linked to Legionnaires Disease at SDSU

Indoor air quality has become a widely discussed topic in institutional and commercial facilities since the emergence of the coronavirus and the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020. However, even before this potentially fatal airborne threat, maintenance and engineering managers were already dealing with another airborne health hazard – Legionnaires’ disease – which has resurfaced.

Recently, San Diego State University (SDSU) reopened two buildings that were closed since February 14, when a case of Legionnaires’ disease was reported among its faculty. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Legionella pneumophila, the bacteria responsible for the disease, was found in three samples collected along a water line in an annex adjacent to the university’s Exercise and Nutritional Sciences building. The university sent a notice to its faculty, students, and staff regarding the issue.

An SDSU professor at the facility, Michael J. Buono, passed away March 4th due to Legionella pneumonia. It is unclear whether he worked in the annex or main building. Additionally, the region experienced a second death due to the same disease in early March. However, there is no evidence of an outbreak, as there have been no cases of two or more individuals sharing the same exposure location.

It is crucial to ensure that indoor air quality is maintained to prevent such diseases. Proper maintenance and regular checks on the air quality and water systems can help in avoiding such health hazards.