Facts About Legionnaires’ Disease
How much do you know about Legionnaires’ disease? Many people are aware it is a disease caused by Legionella bacteria – one that attacks the lungs. As such, it can present much like the flu to start with, which means some cases are not identified as Legionnaires’ disease until after the infection has taken hold.
While anyone can potentially develop Legionnaires’ disease, it is far more prevalent among those who are above the age of 50 or suffer from underlying health conditions. Anyone who has a weakened immune system will also be at greater risk of developing the disease. Furthermore, people who fall into one or more of these categories tend to be at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.
How long does it take for the Legionnaires’ disease to develop following infection?
Once the Legionella bacteria get into someone’s system, it can take anything from just two to 14 days to develop and to produce symptoms indicative of Legionnaires’ disease.
Which symptoms should you look out for?
Many of the symptoms of Legionnaires’ are very similar to those present in cases of flu. Headaches, achy muscles, a fever, and tiredness are all very likely to occur. Signs of the infection in the lungs will include shortness of breath and chest pains, as well as a dry cough.
Legionella bacteria is present in nature
Warm water sources are ideal for the multiplication of Legionella bacteria. Hence, it is found naturally occurring in ponds, lakes, and other similar bodies of water. However, it rarely multiplies to the extent where it could become harmful to humans in these instances.
Man-made water systems and supplies are the bigger danger
Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease occur in cooling towers and hot and cold water systems that are not properly cleaned or maintained. The ideal temperature for Legionella bacteria to multiply in is between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius. Thus, water sources should be kept above or below this temperature range to help control the growth of the bacteria.
The more complex the water system, the greater the risk of Legionnaires’ disease
Any man-made water system is a potential source of Legionella bacteria. However, if it is properly managed, maintained, and treated to keep the bacteria at acceptable levels, there should be no reason for an outbreak to occur.
When more than one case of Legionnaires’ disease occurs in a small area, an investigation will typically highlight a common place all the affected people recently visited. Once the source is found, it can be appropriately treated to bring the bacteria back under control and protect people from further infection.
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Our teams of water safety specialists support those responsible for the control of waterborne pathogens including Legionella bacteria in commercial, industrial and institutional environments across all regions of the UK and internationally. We deliver professional water safety solutions, water testing, independent compliance auditing, City & Guilds training and other environmental risk management services.
If you have questions about any of the issues raised above or you would like to speak with one of our specialists please call us today on 0330 223 36 87 or contact us here.