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Court Building Shut Because of Legionnaire’s Bacteria

January 26, 1994

LARGO, Fla. (AP) _ The bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s disease forced officials to shut down a county’s criminal courts building Wednesday, sending judges, lawyers and office workers home while a contractor cleans up.

The bacteria was isolated Tuesday in an air conditioner unit. Two people who work at the complex have tested positive for the disease in the last two months and 365 other employees were awaiting results of blood tests.

″It was probably in the air vent blowing right down on my desk,″ said judicial assistant Carole Covington, who tested positive. ″Just my luck.″

It could take at least two weeks to rid the four-story building of the bacteria. Offices and trials were being moved.

Legionnaire’s disease was first identified in 1976 after 221 people at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia contracted pneumonia and 34 died. Each year, about 50,000 people get the disease, which can be treated with antibiotics. About 500 to 1,000 people die of the disease each year.

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