Legionella in Water: What You Need to Know

You might think that the water in your house or at your office is safe, but the fact is, there is a chance it has dangerous, illness-causing bacteria floating around in it called legionella. One strain of this bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) can actually cause a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaires disease, as well as a respiratory disease called Pontiac Fever. Legionella bacteria contaminates fresh water and can cause a serious type of pneumonia. Is your water supply safe? Click To Tweet

Legionella Growth in Water Distribution Systems

Wherever there is water, there is the potential for Legionella pneumophila. These bacteria enter the water system through many variables, including discharge from wastewater treatment plants, aquatic contaminants, onsite sewage flowing upstream in the watershed, as well as other discharge due to high and low tides.

Where Legionella Pneumophila is Commonly Found

Legionella is naturally found in freshwater environments like lakes, streams and can spread through our water systems. Microbiology water testing has found the following places in homes and offices are at most risk for harboring the dangerous bacteria:

  • Showerheads
  • Sink faucets
  • Decorative Fountains
  • Hot water tanks
  • Large plumbing systems
  • Ice machines
  • Air conditioning cooling towers
  • Nebulizers
  • Hot tubs that haven’t been cleaned properly

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease

Apparently, 99% of Legionnaire outbreaks in the United States is caused by the Legionella pneumophila bacteria in our pipes. People over the age of 50 or with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk. Legionnaires typically strikes in warmer months and symptoms might include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches

How Legionnaires Spreads

In general, legionnaires disease cannot be spread through human contact. Instead, Legionella is spread through aspiration or breathing in the contaminated water droplets. The mist from the hot tub, water droplets from a water fountain, or when water accidentally gets in your lungs while drinking are common ways the legionella pneumophila bacteria spread.

Legionella Pneumophila Prevention

Luckily, legionella pneumophila can be prevented and with proper water treatment, it can be eliminated. To reduce your risk, it is important to have microbiology testing done on your water system to see if the bacteria is in the pipes. After you learn whether legionella is in your water system, it is important to locate all the outlets that test positive and what levels have been found at that site. After treating these contaminated sites, there needs to be an ongoing water monitoring system in place.

Microbial Testing and Legionnaires Disease

The most important thing you can do for your health is to keep your water free from dangerous bacteria like legionella pneumophila. With professional water testing services and environmental monitoring, you can be sure that the water in your home and office will keep your water system free from this dangerous and sometimes deadly bacteria.

Contact us to learn more about testing for legionella in water.

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