Legionnaires’ disease got its name following an outbreak of an illness causing severe pneumonia symptoms that occurred in a Philadelphia hotel hosting a convention of the American Legion in 1976. Contaminated water in the hotel’s cooling towers was inhaled via the air-conditioning system and led to widespread infection.
Although Legionella bacteria are found in natural water systems, the chances of catching Legionnaires’ disease from rivers and ponds are low. When you store water in purpose-built systems e.g. cooling towers and hot and cold water systems, the potential for contracting the disease is dramatically increased. Inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols) that contain the Legionella bacterium can lead to infection.
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease
Similar to flu symptoms, Legionnaires’ disease can cause a high temperature, fever, chills, cough, muscle pains, and headaches. It can also cause diarrhoea, sickness, confusion, and in some cases lead to pneumonia. Legionnaires’ disease is not contagious and is treated with antibiotics.
Conditions that increase risk
Water temperature (between 20-45 °C) within the water system encourages bacteria growth as do water storage and re-circulation. Certain deposits support growth as well; these include rust, scale, organic matter and biofilms.
What should we be doing to prevent an outbreak?
The Health and Safety Executive has published an Approved Code of Practice (L8), Guidance (HSG274), and the Department of Health has published Health Technical Memorandum 04-01 for healthcare premises. You won’t be surprised to find a significant amount of information in these documents, but it is imperative that you maintain adequate records of your testing and procedures to demonstrate compliance.
We don’t have time for all this!
At Lubron, we know that your time is valuable and better served doing what you do best. That is why we offer consultancy services to advise you, and City and Guilds accredited courses for your staff. We can provide chemical water treatment or equipment solutions if required to mitigate your risk.
For further information and to find out how Lubron can help you to maintain compliance and avoid an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease contact us here.