The Marine Corps Exchange complex at Cherry Point is set to reopen Thursday after an employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease last week.


The Marine Corps Exchange complex at Cherry Point is set to reopen Thursday after an employee was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease last week.



The voluntary closure had been in effect since Sept. 13, when base commanders decided to use caution and test the building’s air and water systems for the bacteria that causes the disease, according to a release from Cherry Point’s Public Affairs Office.



The tests did not indicate the presence of the Legionella bacteria that causes the disease, and there is no evidence of a risk to the public, according to the release.



The entire air-conditioning system in the complex was cleaned, according to the release.



The employee’s diagnosis was reported to air station officials on Sept. 12 and confirmed on Sept. 13, prompting the closure of the complex for an inspection.



Base officials had said the closing of the complex was precautionary, as no determination had been made on where the employee contracted the disease.



The commissary, which operates on separate air system from the rest of the Exchange complex, was not affected.



According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease is found naturally in the environment and is not spread through person-to-person contact. It is most often found in water, such as in hot tubs or whirlpools, but can get into large plumbing systems or into air-conditioning systems of large buildings.



The disease is a type of pneumonia or lung infection, and symptoms include a high fever, chills, and a cough. Some patients suffer from muscle aches and headaches. The symptoms occur within two to 14 days of exposure to the bacteria, according to the CDC.



The disease is considered treatable can be fatal in up to 30 percent of cases, and as many as 18,000 people annually get the disease, according to the CDC.