Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease
Legionella pneumophila, is a waterborne bacterium, which can lead to fatal respiratory diseases in humans, such as Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever.
Legionella is naturally occurring and is widespread in ponds, rivers and other natural water systems. But when the bacterium enters water systems in the built environment, conditions, such as water temperature, can often favour and encourage rapid growth and can lead to explosive outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease (LD) and other related infections.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of Pneumonia, which causes fatal complications to occur within the human lungs. Any water source producing aerosols should be considered at risk for transmission of Legionella bacteria, including cooling towers, spa and pools, fountains, showers, car wash installations, air conditioning units, misters, humidifiers and many others.
If the infection is not contained or treated early on, it can cause confusions, comas, heart failure and ultimately death. According to the World Health Organization: “The death rate from Legionnaires’ disease may be as high as 40–80% in untreated patients and can be reduced to 5–30% through appropriate case management.
In recent years, there has been an increase in cases of Legionnaires’ disease worldwide, with reported incidences of Legionaries’ disease growing at an alarming rate. Between 2011 and 2015 cases of the infection had risen by 42% and Europe saw the largest number of cases ever reported – with an overall notification rate of 1.37 per 100,000 of the population and a mortality rate of 8.1%. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that in the US alone, cases of LD have grown by nearly four and a half times since 2000.
Scientists predict that the effects of climate change, such as increased temperatures and rainfalls, could be to blame and that cases of infection will likely continue to rise.
Although Legionnaires’ disease is on the rise many businesses and individuals still ignore the risks associated with Legionella bacteria. It is important to be aware of the risks presented by Legionella, in both domestic and industrial settings, because the consequences of ignoring them are serious. Not doing your bit to reduce risk in your facility could lead to heavy fines for you and your organisation and in serious cases, imprisonment on grounds of manslaughter. Find out here if you are at risk. However, in order to prevent Legionella from occurring, you must first fully understand the problem.
Although there is so much information about Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease available online, it can be difficult and time consuming to figure out what you need to know in order to minimise the risks associated with this deadly bacteria.
For this reason, we created a short e-book that covers all important topics about Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease. You will learn
- where Legionella grows
- how it spreads
- how it infects humans
- and why you should care about this deadly bacteria.