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UPDATE: Employees to Return to Work After Health Concern


UPDATE 7/12/13 @ 11:15 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Some employees at the West Virginia State Department of Education will return to work next week after a health concern prompted them to work from home.

Earlier this week, the Department of Education sent out a letter advising its staff that an employee in Building 6 has what is believed to be Legionnaires Pneumonia. As a precaution, the department asked a section of employees on the third floor of Building 6 to work from home.

Liza Cordeiro, communications spokesperson with the state Department of Education, tells WSAZ.com Dr. Danae Bixler from the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health has now advised that there is not an outbreak.

"As a result there is neither epidemiological evidence to support testing any water source in Building 6 nor any reason for employees to be working off site," Cordeiro said.

Employees have been told to return back to their normal work stations on Monday, July 15.

This Legionnaires case is still considered an unconfirmed case.

According to the Center for Disease and Control's website, Legionnaires' is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. The Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. This type of pneumonia can't spread from person-to-person contact.

The CDC also reports "a person diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease in the workplace is not a threat to others who share office space or other areas with him or her."



UPDATE: 7/11/13 @ 9:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An employee of the state Department of Education has come down with a serious infection health experts say could be Legionnaires' disease.

It is a bacterial infection of the lungs that is not spread person-to-person. Instead, it is contracted through contact with contaminated water.

Because the source of the infection has not yet been identified, some employees on the third floor of Building Six have been asked to stay home.

Claudia Jones works on the second floor.

"I was thinking a little bit as I walked in, eww," Jones said. "But then, I'm a very positive person. And I said, you know, I've got a job to do and I don't want a day off. I've got a lot of work to do."

According to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health is investigating the incident. They cannot talk about it specifically, but say people have nothing to worry about. The bacteria that causes Legionnaires is actually very common.

"Most people, when they get exposed to Legionella-- and being exposed to Legionella is pretty common," Dr. Dee Bixler said. "Either they don't get ill at all or have a very mild illness."

Bixler says many are exposed to Legionella bacteria, but do not contract a serious illness.

Those who are most susceptible have weakens immune systems, diabetes or lung diseases.

As for Jones, she says right now, her focus is on her co-worker getting better.

"I just sat down and into work I went and just pray," Jones said. "That's all we can do is just pray. And it's in the Lord's hands upstairs."



ORIGINAL STORY: 7/11/13 @ 9:30 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Some employees at the West Virginia State Capitol will be working from home Thursday.

According to a communications spokesperson, an employee with the West Virginia Department of Education has what is believed to be Legionnaires Pneumonia. However, at this point it is an unconfirmed case.

Liza Cordeiro tells WSAZ.com the department is working with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to make sure every precaution is taken during the investigation.

Janet Briscoe with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says her department was contacted about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday by state officials about the environmental concerns.

Under state law, because the concern is in a state building, the investigation was turned over to the Division of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology with the State Bureau of Public Health, according to Briscoe.

Dr. Dee Bixler is handing this particular case. Briscoe says the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will be available to assist the agency if necessary.

According to the Center for Disease and Control's website, Legionnaires' is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. The Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. This type of pneumonia can't spread from person-to-person contact.

The CDC also reports "a person diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease in the workplace is not a threat to others who share office space or other areas with him or her."

In a letter sent to employees Wednesday afternoon, the department asked a section of employees on the third floor of Building 6 to work from home Thursday as a precaution. Everyone else in the building will still report to work as usual.

At this time, Building 6 is not the source of the bacteria, according to Cordeiro.

No other information is being released at this time. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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