Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia most common in the summer and fall. It can be deadly and there is no vaccination for the disease which is caused by any type of legionella bacteria. It is naturally found in a lot of water supplies like streams, rivers, pools, and ponds. Because of this, testing for legionella bacteria is a very important process. Here are some of the reasons accurate and regular legionella testing is important:
It can cause diseases – As we previously mentioned, legionella bacteria can cause a type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease or legionellosis. This is typically accompanied by symptoms like fever, chills, muscle ache, chest pains, and more. There is no vaccination against Legionnaires and while most cases can be treated with antibiotics, about 10% percent of Legionnaires cases can be deadly. There are currently 1.62 legionellosis cases per 100,000 persons in the United States.
It can be found in common places – Legionella are found in a lot of fresh water sources, and while you may not be jumping in ponds frequently, you’re probably more likely to be around hot tubs and hot water tanks that supply showers. Even if you don’t go in the water, the bacteria can be found in the air near the body of water if there is water mist. Legionella grow in warm water-containing mechanical equipment and are released as a mist that you could inhale and become infected. Equipment associated with legionellosis includes cooling towers next to or on top of buildings, car wash facilities, grocery store vegetable misters, hot tubs, and of course, showers. Patients on respirators in healthcare facilities and people with inadequate immune systems may also aspirate legionella into their lungs. There is a 2016 guideline from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that helps building owners reduce the legionella hazard.