Legionnaire’s Disease is a rare but serious form of pneumonia. It is caused by breathing in water droplets that contain legionella bacteria. It is easily preventable by some simple steps to ensure you are not exposed to water that may be contaminated.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can catch Legionnaire’s Disease, although not everyone exposed to the bacteria will go on to become ill. Symptoms are similar to those of flu: high temperature, fever/chills, headaches and muscle pains. It most commonly affects people over 45, smokers, heavy drinkers, those with chronic kidney/respiratory disease or otherwise impaired immunity, and those with long-term illness. Legionnaire’s Disease is not contagious. You cannot catch it by drinking water.
Legionella bacteria can multiply to dangerous levels when there is sludge, rust or scale present, and the water is between 20ºC and 45ºC. Mains cold water is usually below 20ºC and considered safe. The following will help prevent legionella becoming a problem:
- Flush through showers and taps for 10 minutes following a period of non-use, eg, if you have been away on holiday. Be careful to stay out of the way of any spray when doing this.
- Keep shower heads and taps clean and free from build-up, like limescale, mould or algae. Descale shower heads regularly.
- Heat hot water in your boiler to a minimum of 50ºC, although you should then beware of scalding when running hot water. 50ºC will feel hot on the hands.
- Flush the toilet with the lid down following a period of non-use.
If you have any concerns about the possible build up of Legionella, or the condition of the water system in your property, please contact us on 01296 732600. If you suspect that someone in your home may have contracted Legionnaire’s Disease, you should contact your doctor immediately.