Legionella, leading to what is commonly called Legionnaires Disease is a potentially life threatening organism, a bacterium which thrives in water between 20 and 45 deg.C. It cannot survive long above 65 deg.C but can remain dormant below 20

The Legionella bacteria enters the lungs of a human host from tiny aerosol droplets in the atmosphere, these can be found in spray from items like showers and hoses or in the minute water vapour particles in air conditioning systems or overly warm cisterns.

Once inside the lungs these bacteria cause symptoms similar to Pneumonia and whilst these can often be nothing more than unpleasant they can be FATAL!

Areas presenting a risk of Legionellosis;

  • Hot and cold water systems
  • Water systems containing evaporative condenser or cooling towers
  • Spa pools
  • Humidifiers
  • Fountains, sprinklers and showers
  • Car washes
  • Natural thermal springs
  • Water cooled machine tools
  • Respirators and therapy equipment
  • Plant misters and watering systems
  • and anywhere water may get above 20 deg.C
  • The incidence of this disease is comparatively low but recent figures suggest that it is increasing and with 16 cases per million people in Ireland during 2007 there is good reason to take proper precautions.

    Basic measures to limit the spread of Legionella

  • Avoid stagnant water
  • Properly maintain equipment where water may get warm
  • control the use of fine sprays
  • sterilise breathing equipment and masks
  • Make sure that water heaters and hot water tanks regularly exceed 65 deg.C
  • ensure proper hygiene regimes are followed with all warm water sources
  • It is mostly common sense but ignorance of the risk is the greatest threat, a header tank in the attic for instance may be a breeding ground for bacteria so simply insulating it can reduce the risk. Simple measures can negate most of the hazards presented by this bacterium and will reduce the risk from many other similar organisms.

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