Face Masks and Legionnaires’ Disease: There Is No Link
If you have an account on any kind of social media platform, you’ll know just how often people talk absolute nonsense (to put it politely). A lot of the time it’s all very silly, but it’s not actually harmful. Every now and then, however, something pops up that not only captures people’s imaginations and starts to get shared around a lot, but also is completely and utterly wrong, and dangerously so.
This is exactly the situation with a Facebook post that has gained a lot of traction recently, and it talks about the connection between wearing face masks and developing legionnaires’ disease. The post goes like this:
“Mask wearers beware… A caller to a radio talk show recently shared that his wife was hospitalised and told she had COVID and only a couple of days left to live. A doctor friend suggested she be tested for legionnaires disease because she wore the same mask every day all day long. Turns out it WAS legionnaires disease from the moisture and bacteria in her mask. She was given antibiotics and within two days was better. WHAT IF these ‘spikes’ in COVID are really something else due to mask wearing??”
Now, we’re not here to say that this woman – assuming she’s real, and of course she may not be – didn’t have legionnaires’ disease. We’re also well aware that the symptoms of COVID-19 and legionnaires’ disease are similar. However, we can categorically state that she did not develop the condition from wearing a face mask, even if she did wear the same one, day in, day out.
You’ll find an excellent statement on legionella.org (where you can find out plenty more about legionnaire’ disease too) which reads:
“You cannot contract Legionnaires’ disease from wearing face masks. Legionella bacteria is transmitted by aspirating drinking water or breathing in water droplets. Legionella is not spread from person-to-person in respiratory droplets nor does the bacteria survive on dry surfaces. Your mask would not be a source of transmission for the Legionella bacteria.”
It's very clear – wearing a face mask won’t lead you to develop legionnaires’ disease. But it will help to keep those around you protected from coronavirus so please do continue to wear a mask when required; it won’t kill you, and it might just save a life or two.