See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Wayne State detects elevated levels of legionella in Old Main

Posted By and on Tue, Jun 25, 2019 at 4:32 PM

click to enlarge Old Main at Wayne State University. - WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY
  • Wayne State University
  • Old Main at Wayne State University.

Wayne State University officials have discovered elevated levels of legionella in Old Main and have turned off the building’s cooling systems for the next few days to prevent an outbreak.

Legionella is a dangerous bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially deadly lung infection. People can get sick by inhaling mist or vapor, often from cooling systems. About 10 percent of people who get Legionnaires’ disease die.

WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood said there have been no reports of anyone getting ill.

In a university-wide email, William R. Decatur, vice president of finance and business operations, said the discovery came after routine testing, prompting WSU to remove the building’s cooling systems.

“In the course of ongoing, routine testing, we discovered elevated levels of legionella in the Old Main cooling tower. When this occurs, university protocol dictates that the cooling towers are immediately taken off line so they can be disinfected and cleaned,” he said. “Therefore, the Old Main cooling system has been shut down. There will be no air-conditioning or cooling fans in Old Main during this time.”

Temperatures are expected to reach the high 80s over the next few days.

According to the university, the cooling towers are expected to be turned back on in the next two or three days.

Outbreaks are most common in the summer and early fall.

Flint’s water crisis led to one of the largest outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, infecting nearly 90 people and killing 12 between 2014 and 2017.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 14, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit