Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Causes Of Legionnaires Disease And Ways Of Prevention


Legionellosis is a respiratory disease caused by Legionella bacteria. Sometimes the bacteria cause a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria can also cause a less serious infection called Pontiac fever that has symptoms similar to a mild case of the flu.

How The Disease Is Spread
After Legionella grows and multiplies in a building water system, that contaminated water then has to spread in droplets small enough for people to breathe in. People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria. Less commonly, people can get Legionnaires’ disease by aspiration of drinking water. This happens when water “goes down the wrong pipe,” into the trachea (windpipe) and lungs instead of the digestive tract. People at increased risk of aspiration include those with swallowing difficulties. In general, people do not spread Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever to other people. A few people have contracted legionnaires' disease after working in the garden or using contaminated potting soil.
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Risk Factors 
Not everyone exposed to legionella bacteria becomes sick. You're more likely to develop the infection if you:

  • Smoke : Smoking damages the lungs, making you more susceptible to all types of lung infections.
  • Have a weakened immune system as a result of HIV/AIDS or certain medications, especially corticosteroids and drugs taken to prevent organ rejection after a transplant.
  • Have a chronic lung disease such as emphysema or another serious condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or cancer.
  •  Are 50 years of age or older.
  •  Are living with cancer
  • Have a chronic lung disease (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema)

Legionnaires' disease is a sporadic and local problem in hospitals and nursing homes, where germs may spread easily and people are vulnerable to infection

Causes Of Legionnaires Disease 
Bacteria called Legionella causes Legionnaires’ disease. The bacteria invade the lungs and cause an infection known as pneumonia.
Legionella usually live in warm freshwater. Common locations include:
  • Hot tubs
  • Whirlpool spas
  • Swimming pools
  • Cooling systems or air-conditioning units for large buildings, such as hospitals
  • Public showers
  • Humidifiers
  • Fountains
  • Natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and creeks

The bacteria can survive outdoors, but they’re known to multiply rapidly in indoor water systems. People get infected by inhaling water droplets or mist in the air that’s contaminated with the bacteria. The disease can’t be spread directly from person to person. Most people become infected when they inhale microscopic water droplets containing legionella bacteria. This might be the spray from a shower, faucet or whirlpool, or water dispersed through the ventilation system in a large building.

Prevention Of Legionnaires Disease

Water systems must be properly maintained to prevent Legionnaires' disease. The water must be kept below 20 degrees Celsius or 68 degrees Fahrenheit, or above 60 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Impurities should not be allowed to build up in the water. Owners and managers of commercial buildings are urged to follow guidelines regarding water safety.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that most cases that occur could be prevented through better water management.
They note that between 2000 and 2014, "Almost all outbreaks were caused by problems preventable with more effective water management."


Author: Richard Smith