Legionella is an environmental bacterium which can cause deadly diseases such as legionellosis or pneumonia. Therefore it is important for your health to know that an outbreak of Legionella can be produced by an infection contracted through the common use of water circuits such as Jacuzzis or air conditioners, for example.
Because of this, it is crucial to be aware of this bacterium, and knowing what it is. According to this, over the next few lines we are providing more information about Legionella and how it affects people’s health.
It is also worth mentioning that governments are acting against legionellosis and they usually provide information on their own websites to inform citizens and companies about the dangers, and the involved health-related requirements in order to prevent it.
But what exactly is Legionella?
Legionella is a bacterium that exists all across the world. It normally becomes part of the bacterial flora of water surfaces (lakes, rivers and ponds). It is very resistant in its natural habitat, capable of surviving in very varied physical-chemical conditions and its optimum temperature for growth is 35 to 37 degrees.
This means that conditions for its reproduction are suitable to grow through water supplies and distribution systems of large cities. it can reach our facilities such as sanitary hot water systems, heated water systems, cooling towers, industrial humidification plants, among others. This is why a good prevention program is crucial.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are: headaches, chest pain, muscle pain, loss of appetite, fever, trouble breathing, cough, diarrhoea, nausea and alteration of the state of consciousness. The incubation period is from two to ten days and if it is not treated on time, it can lead to cerebral sequels or even death.
People with a greater risk
Most healthy people who are exposed to Legionella do not get sick. The people with a greater risk of getting sick are: people over 50 years old, smokers or ex-smokers, people who have weakened immune systems or take medications that weaken it, people who have cancer or a chronic lung disease.
As soon as you start the treatment, you will feel its impact on your health. The first thing that a doctor will administer will be antibiotics which should be used in a period of time shorter than 14 days.
Penicillin is ineffective against the germ of legionellosis
so some treatments are liquids administered through veins (fluid therapy) and oxygen, which is administered through a mask or respirator.
How to prevent it?
In order to prevent the infection by this bacterium there are some recommendations such as avoiding the stagnation of water anywhere in the house. In buildings with tanks, it is recommended to cover them with a waterproof cover. If the building has a hot water system with an accumulator, it is recommended to establish a maintenance program, carried out by the community or by arranging it with an authorised legionella risk assessment company, which includes the cleaning of accumulators and annual preventive treatments. In the case of having a jacuzzi or whirlpool at home, it is recommended to clean and disinfect the bathtub, after each use, especially the impulse nozzles and surfaces.
The use of ozonated water could be also a solution to prevent Legionella. This is very effective in removing this and other bacteria and viruses. In addition, this fluid has more benefits than chlorinated water and it is very good to generally improve our health.
With these simple measures of prevention, it is possible to avoid some problems produced by this bacterium and its effects and consequences.