New testing conducted at the Robinson Renaissance office building in downtown Oklahoma City no longer showed the existence of Legionella bacteria, according to a report by that city’s KFOR-TV.

At least six employees who worked in the building tested positive for Legionella bacteria infection in February, according to KFOR-TV sources, which is why testing was ordered. Laboratory testing at that time returned evidence of the bacteria in one of the building’s cooling systems.

Legionella is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease – a potentially deadly type of pneumonia – and a milder, flu-like condition known as Pontiac fever.

No additional information regarding the condition of the sickened employees or the severity of their illness was made available.

Officials confirmed that regular screenings of the building’s cooling tower will be added to the building’s maintenance schedule in an effort to identify potential issues, so that problems can be remediated more quickly.

Employees or recent visitors to the Robinson Renaissance building or the surrounding area who may be exhibiting flu-like or respiratory illness (see symptoms below), or who have concerns about their health, should immediately contact their medical provider.

The 13-story Robinson Renaissance building is located at 119 N. Robinson Ave. It is owned by the Commissioners of the Land Office state agency, which paid $8.95 million for the 174,140-square-foot, U-shaped building in 2014. It was originally called the Perrine Building when it opened in 1927.

Legionnaires' disease bacteria

How is Legionella contracted?

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments.

Outbreaks have been linked to a range of sources, such as:

  • cooling towers in air conditioning systems
  • large plumbing systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • swimming pools
  • showers and faucets
  • decorative fountains
  • mist machines
  • equipment used in physical therapy.

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – are similar to other forms of pneumonia or flu, which is why so many cases go unreported annually. Early symptoms can include the following:

  • chills
  • fever (potentially 104 degrees or higher)
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle aches.

After the first few days, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • chest pain when breathing (called pleuritic chest pain, due to inflamed lungs)
  • confusion and agitation
  • a cough, which may bring up mucus and blood
  • diarrhea (about one-third of all cases result in gastrointestinal problems)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • shortness of breath.

The incubation period – the amount of time between breathing in the bacteria and developing symptoms – is usually 2 to 10 days after exposure and can be as much as 16 days.