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Sometimes, the things that can undermine your family’s health are right in front of you.

Take your showerheads, for example.

Each time you take a shower, you are inadvertently exposing yourself to Legionella bacteria, the cause of the potentially lethal Legionnaires’ disease.

In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado, it was discovered that about 30 percent of showerheads contained Mycobacterium avium which is known to cause lung disease.

But apart from the Mycobacterium avium, a similarly dangerous bacterium, Legionella, can also be found in showerheads and practically anywhere that moisture can build up. These include hot tubs, cooling towers, plumbing systems and hot water tanks.

When a fixture has not been used for a long time, lime scale and biofilm deposits can form in the water system. These can harbour bacteria which, in turn, can infect people who come into contact with these systems.

Hot and cold water systems are especially vulnerable to lime scale and biofilm deposits and can host the dreaded Legionella bacteria. When the temperature is within the 20 to 45 degrees Celsius range and the water has been allowed to sit within this temperature range, the bacteria can rapidly multiply and the potential for Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ disease, also known as Legionellosis, is a type of lung infection which is caused by the Legionella bacteria. A person can be infected by the bacteria upon inhalation of contaminated water droplets. A healthy person may not succumb to the disease but people who are at risk, including the elderly and those with a compromised immune system, can contract Legionnaires’ disease.

An infected person can exhibit symptoms like headaches, muscle and abdominal pain, and fatigue between two to 10 days after exposure. Left unchecked, the disease can lead to further complications like respiratory problems, kidney failure, and even deaths.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that between 8,000 and 18,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported annually in the United States. However, the Building and Engineering Services association believes that the actual number of cases may actually be higher due to the similarity between the symptoms of flu and Legionellosis.

What can you do to protect your family from Legionnaires’ disease as well as the other bacteria lurking in the shower?

For one, you may want to consider switching from plastic showerheads to metal ones. Metal showerheads have been found to have fewer pathogens.

You can also let the water run from your shower for some time before using it. This can reduce the possibility of inhaling pathogens which burst out of the showerhead upon turning it on.

Finally, use Showerhead Plus to loosen and remove scale deposits on your showerhead. Shower Head Plus is a proven effective and safe way to clean showerheads and keep it safe from developing harmful bacteria.