Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia. It was named after an outbreak of severe pneumonia which affected a meeting of the American Legion in 1976. It’s an uncommon but serious disease that occurs more frequently in men than women. It usually affects middle-aged or elderly people and it more commonly affects smokers or people with other chest problems. It’s uncommon in younger people and is very uncommon under the age of 20.
How does a person get Legionnaires disease?
The germ which causes Legionnaires’ is a bacterium called Legionella pneumophila. People catch it by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air which contain the Legionella bacterium. However, most people who are exposed to legionella do not become ill.
Where does the disease come from?
The bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease is widespread in nature. It mainly lives in water, for example ponds, where it does not usually cause problems.
Outbreaks occur from purpose-built water systems where temperatures are warm enough to encourage growth of the bacteria, e.g. in cooling towers, evaporative condensers and whirlpool spas (tradename Jaccuzi) and from water used for domestic purposes in buildings such as offices, factories, hospitals, care homes and hotels.
Most community outbreaks in the United Kingdom have been linked to installations such as wet cooling towers or evaporative condensers, which can spread droplets of water over a wide area. These are found as part of air-conditioning and industrial cooling systems.
How to prevent people from getting Legionnaires?
The best form of defence against Legionnaires is a good offence. Ensuring that you’re proactive and on top of your risk management obligations will help to keep your staff and customers safe. The best advice is to make sure that systems that use water in your venue are regularly checked and maintained. We would advise that your speak to a risk management advisor to give you the best possible advice.
If you don’t currently have a risk management advisor, contact NDML today.