CMS closes headquarters after Legionella detected

CMS closed its suburban Baltimore headquarters on June 7 after Legionella bacteria was detected in the facility's plumbing amid renovations, The Washington Post reported June 13.

The decision was a precautionary measure and no employee health issues have been reported. The agency said it will conduct more tests and treat the water. It is unclear how many CMS employees currently work on-site at the headquarters, but the agency is working remotely until the situation resolves.

"The health and safety of the CMS workforce is our top priority. In an abundance of caution, we have closed our location in Baltimore until the situation is resolved," CMS told the Post. "CMS' work will continue seamlessly without disruption."

Legionella, a bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, can be spread through inhalation of contaminated aerosolized water. Legionnaires cases have been rising since 2003 in the U.S., according to a 2022 CDC report. About 10 percent of people who contract the disease die from illness complications. About 6,000 cases are reported in the U.S. annually, per OSHA.

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