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  • Lisamarie Lamb

What Is Legionella And How Dangerous Is It?

Legionnaires' disease is a serious health threat. Find out how legionnaires' disease is transmitted and how to avoid it.

In addition to the more well-known case of legionnaires' disease, legionella bacteria cause a variety of other respiratory illnesses generally known as legionellosis. An estimated 500 cases of legionnaires' illness are diagnosed each year in the United Kingdom. It is possible to avoid legionella bacteria, which cause legionnaires' illness, by conducting risk assessments and implementing proper training.

What Is Legionella?

Legionella is a bacterium that causes legionellosis, a group of respiratory disorders that include Lochgoilhead fever, Pontiac fever, and legionnaires' disease.

It is possible to find modest amounts of the bacterium legionella in lakes and streams, but this does not represent a health concern to people. When bacteria are present in large densities, especially in commercial water systems, the risk of illness increases.

The bacterium legionella may be found in:

Offices, recreational centres, industries, hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels all have water systems constructed specifically for them.

Certain models of air conditioners.

Cooling towers and water tanks. 

Hot tubs and saunas.

Washrooms, toilets, and showers.

Sprays and fountains.

Office building air conditioning cooling towers.

Where nutrients are present, standing, steady, or stagnant water can become a breeding environment for the legionella bacterium. Stagnant portions of the water system, such as redundant or blocked-up piping, can allow bacteria to flourish, making them less likely to be detected in residential areas or anyplace else where water is often changed.

What Is Legionnaires' Disease?

Legionella bacteria are the primary cause of legionnaires' disease, a severe type of pneumonia. Undiagnosed instances of legionnaires' disease might number as high as 4,000 to 5,000 per year in the UK, even though Public Health England only records around 500 cases each year.

Legionnaires' disease has the potential to be lethal if left untreated. Long-term health concerns might arise if antibiotics are not used effectively.

Managing Legionella In The Workplace

People in charge of properties, such as landlords, have a legal obligation to take appropriate safeguards to reduce the danger of legionella exposure. As part of this, they need to know what legionella is, identify and manage legionella threats, and maintain all water systems in their facilities.

Maintaining a safe and secure workplace requires doing a thorough risk assessment and putting in place a plan of action, such as a maintenance schedule and employee awareness training.

A legionella risk assessment should be performed to identify and evaluate potential sources of exposure.

Set up measures to mitigate the risks identified in the risk assessment, such as training for employees.

Keep an eye on how the strategy is being implemented and how well it's working.

Ensure that correct records are maintained and preserved in a safe location.

A legionella risk assessment may be performed by a qualified individual at your workplace. A legionella risk assessment and management professional might also be brought in for assistance.

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