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Windshield cleaner tests positive for Legionnaires’ Disease

PHOENIX — Your windshield washer fluid could kill you.

Arizona State University Ph.D student Otto Schwake discovered the bacteria responsible for Legionnaires’ Disease thrives in the cleaning fluid while testing a fleet of school buses in Maricopa County.

“Eighty percent of the buses we sampled were positive,” said Schwake. “We’ve almost a billion legionella in just one bus, so the numbers and positives are a lot higher than I thought they would be.”

Schwake said he started the project after reading results of epidemiology studies which credibly links vehicles and Legionnaires’ Disease.

Legionella, the bacteria that leads to Legionnaires’ Disease, is a water-born pathogen. If it is turned into a mist or vapor and inhaled a person could contract a potentially deadly form of pneumonia.

Parents should not panic about allowing their children onto school buses, the level of risk has not changed and the research is in its infancy.