All was quiet Wednesday at a GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical plant that was shut down after the drug maker discovered the bacteria that causes potentially fatal Legionnaire’s disease in a cooling tower at the site.
Only a handful of cars could be seen in the parking lots outside the manufacturing plant about 25 miles east of Raleigh where asthma medications and other inhalable products are produced.
People can contract Legionnaires’ disease when they inhale water vapor or mist containing the bacteria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. It does not spread from person to person, the agency said.
The cooling tower “does not come into contact with product manufactured at the facility,” GlaxoSmithKline said late Tuesday.
Glaxo spokeswomen have not responded to questions about whether there was any risk of indoor exposure to employees or medicines from water droplets that could carry the legionella bacteria. The company hasn’t described what type of work was conducted at the shuttered location, how many people worked there, or whether there was any potential for contamination of medicines.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokesman said Wednesday the drug safety regulator was still looking into the details and referred questions to GlaxoSmithKline.
The plant produces inhaled drugs like Advair, a drug for asthma, and contracts with other pharmaceutical companies to produce their drugs.
Legionella bacteria found in cooling tanks in the Bronx section of New York City caused 12 Legionnaires’ disease deaths this summer.
Most people who are exposed to the bacteria do not become ill, but about 8,000 to 18,000 Americans are hospitalized with the disease annually, the CDC said.