In the United Kingdom, there is a legal obligation for anyone responsible for maintaining water systems in buildings to mitigate the risk of Legionella. This is supported by prosecutions and fines for Duty Holders found to have failed to comply with regulations and endangered human health.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia, but what exactly is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is the name given to an inflammation of the tissue in one or both lungs. Your lungs are made up of air sacs known as alveoli and when these are affected – in the case of Legionnaires’ by bacterial infection – they become inflamed and may fill with fluid or pus causing symptoms such as a cough, chills, fever and difficulty in breathing.
WCS Group, the leading water treatment, water hygiene and air hygiene company in the UK, has added additional training courses which are tailored for Hospitality and Leisure operators. The four additional courses are; Legionella Awareness (Leisure Operators), Practical Legionella Course (Asset Management), Swimming Pool and Spa Testing and Water Management, Pool and Plant for Leisure Operators.
Every year a significant number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported, many resulting in long illnesses or even deaths.
It’s a potentially fatal disease that is not going away and could even be on the rise.
The disease is a type of pneumonia which can prove fatal to people who are likely to be more susceptible to its effects – the elderly, people with lung conditions, people with weakened immune systems and anyone who drinks or smokes heavily.
In Part 1, we looked at bacteria and viruses in water, common water treatment techniques to manage bacteria in water and common waterborne pathogens. In Part 2, we consider how pipe material, pipe age, the physical integrity of the water distribution system, the number and type of water storage systems, and water chemistry and flow may influence drinking water quality. We also look at water safety and disinfection strategies designed to protect water distribution systems and human health.
Drinking water quality is something we take for granted in the UK but it is still the preoccupation of Water Safety Group team members, microbiologists, site facility managers and water hygiene technicians. We now understand the greatest risk to human health is from waterborne pathogens, viruses and infections existing largely between water entering our buildings and the building water distribution system in it, as well as the last few metres before point of delivery. So how are microbes and pathogens in our water distribution systems best managed?
Despite vast improvements in water safety, drinking water is still occasionally contaminated with pathogens and waterborne illness continue to occur. Advances in microbiology are providing new ways for us to study and understand what microbes live and thrive naturally in our water distribution systems and how we can maintain clean, safe water in buildings and especially in the last few metres – at point of delivery.
Legionnaires' disease is an extreme form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. It can be caught by inhaling water droplets containing the bacteria. Legionella bacteria grow when water temperatures are between 20-45°C, where nutrients, such as rust, sludge, scale, sediment and algae are available, and also where water is stagnant in the water system (eg, if a shower or tap is not regularly used).