Legionnaire’s disease is a type of pneumonia, caused by inhaling mist droplets containing legionella bacteria. Risks of illness increase in persons over the age of 50, in smokers, and individuals with weakened immune systems and can be severe enough to cause death in about 1 in 10 people.
Legionella bacteria exists naturally in water and moist soil but can become an issue in buildings through water main breaks, water temperature fluctuations, and inadequate levels of disinfectant. These conditions can promote the growth of Legionella bacteria and spread to devices such as hot water tanks, showerheads, and hot tubs. Outbreaks are often identified in connection with hospitals, care homes, and hotels, where potable hot water temperatures are moderated to avoid burns.
Because there are no vaccines that can prevent Legionnaires’ disease, maintenance of the building water supply in key in preventing Legionella growth and spread. Building owners and managers can reduce the risk of Legionella in their buildings by developing and implementing a water management program.
For further information on Legionella, visit the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html or sign up for our course “Legionella & Legionnaires Disease – Fundamentals for Facility Operations”.
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