What is Legionnaires’ disease?

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What is Legionnaires’ disease?

High risk times for Legionella

Because these bacteria are found everywhere in fresh water, it is impossible to keep them from being introduced into a water system. That leaves society with the challenge of controlling the number of bacteria. The bacteria can live a long time in the pipes that are part of a larger water system, such as those that are in hotels and nursing homes, and when a person turns on the shower in a hotel, Legionella comes tumbling out, too.

The most important factor in preventing Legionella growth in pipes and the water system is to control the temperature of the water. These bacteria grows best at temperatures between 77 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer water sits in pipes, such as those in a hotel room that is unoccupied for several days, the more likely it is that it will be in that temperature danger zone and the bacteria will flourish. This is why Legionnaires’ disease cases spike in the summer and early fall when it is harder to keep the water out of that temperature danger zone.

Ultimately, the responsibility for preventing Legionnaires’ disease falls on the shoulders of the building owners and managers to implement a comprehensive water management program of the complex water systems in their facility. Unlike private homes, commercial buildings have miles of pipe where water may sit for long periods of time, water-based cooling systems, large spas and decorative fountains – and these all have to be properly maintained to prevent Legionella growth.

This is particularly important for hospitals and nursing homes, as 20% of Legionnaires’ cases are acquired in health care settings by people who are at high risk for infection.

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