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Everything You Need To Know About Legionella

legionella test

Legionella is a dangerous bacteria that can pollute your water system and cause serious health problems. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know and how to reduce your risk of infection.

What Is Legionella?

Legionella (Legionella pneumophila) is a potentially fatal bacteria that flourishes in stagnant water. It festers in indoor plumbing systems, but can also thrive in water and soil found outdoors. Historically, larger buildings have seen more outbreaks due to increased opportunity for spread and multiplication, but your personal sinks and faucets are also a risk. The absence of water flow is a lucrative environment for bacteria to grow!

Legionella is resistant to cold temperatures and can only be killed in excess of 50˚C. Certain systems are more high-risk than others; including air conditioning units, hot tubs and swimming pools. This is due to both their increased volume and vapour production, which is how most people inhale the bacteria. Not everyone who inhales legionella bacteria will suffer adverse effects, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers and potential repercussions for your health.

book on legionnaires disease

Why Is it Dangerous?

Legionella bacteria can develop into Legionnaires’ disease, which is a severe form of pneumonia. There are no vaccines, so preventative measures and avoiding the bacteria where possible is key. Symptoms of this disease include coughing, fever, shortness of breath, headaches and body aches. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Thankfully, most recover after a course of antibiotics and a hospital stay. Legionella can also cause Pontiac fever, which is less serious. Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, but thankfully is not accompanied by pneumonia. It can clear up on its own without treatment.

You’re not guaranteed to develop either disease after coming into contact with legionella, but certain health conditions increase your chances of Legionnaires’ disease. If you are over 50 or suffer from a weakened immune system (from conditions such as diabetes, HIV or cancer) the risk is higher. As pneumonia attacks the lungs, a pre-existing condition that affects your respiratory system will also increase your chances of contracting legionellosis. Smoking is also a massive risk condition.

If you suspect you’ve been exposed to legionella and have developed any of the above symptoms, contact your doctor immediately — especially if you’re present in any of the risk categories.

How Can I Prevent It?

Although outbreaks in households are rare, there are things you can do to keep your risk low. Cleaning and descaling hoses and shower heads regularly will reduce the risk of a legionella outbreak. You can also flush out outlets that aren’t used often to prevent stagnation in your plumbing. If you rent your property, your landlord is legally obligated to organise risk assessments to assess your exposure risk. However, if you’re a concerned home owner, you can come to GASLEC for a legionella risk assessment.

legionella bacteria

Contact GASLEC For Legionella Risk Assessments Today

For more information or to arrange a risk assessment, contact GASLEC today. Our professional and experienced team are equipped to handle cases from low to high severity and can advise you on next steps. Don’t take the risk. Keep your water safe with GASLEC.

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