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Legionnaires’ disease is a form of bacterial infection that can cause serious complications in the respiratory system, gastro-intestinal tract and other organs. It can be cured successfully with the right treatment regimen, but it also posts a high mortality rate. Urgent medical attention should be provided once infection sets in, but the problem with this disease is that the symptoms may look very much like symptoms of common respiratory problems, leading some patients to seek the help of a doctor much later than needed. 

The disease is contracted through exposure to Legionella bacteria, which thrives and multiplies in warm water systems. The bacteria live inside water droplets which can be transferred to a person through inhalation or aspiration of contaminated mist or fine water droplets. Large water systems are usually the most susceptible to Legionella growth; that’s why places that are determined to be at risk include water systems in hotelshospital and nursing homes. There have been some cases wherein the mist from a cooling fan in a supermarket was traced as the source of Legionnaires’ disease that affected a number of shoppers. 

However, there is also a level of risk of contracting the disease even from the water sources at home. People living in condominiums, large buildings and apartment complexes should check with their landlord if the network of water pipes in the property is free from bacteria. Other components of the home, such as air-conditioning systems, humidifiers, swimming poolshot tubs, Jacuzzis and fountains were also identified to be potential carriers of Legionella. Therefore, proper cleaning, disinfection and maintenance should be implemented to avoid bacterial growth. 

Special attention is also recommended for the cleaning and maintenance of water heaters, as poorly performing water heaters have also been traced as a top source of the dreaded bacteria. Your shower head or faucet can be harbouring them without you knowing. Health authorities say that maintaining the right temperature for the water and regular use of the water systems to avoid stagnant water are two ways to prevent contamination. On a larger scale, municipal officials should also make sure water in the community is treated properly with chlorine to prevent the access of disease-causing microbial waterborne pathogens. 

Another critical step to ensure a healthy home is to invest in home testing for Legionella bacteria. We sell affordable and easy-to-use kits you can purchase on this site to screen your water for potential contamination. Usually, all you need to do is to send samples of your hot water (sample bottles and container bag will be provided) to our testing centre and wait for the laboratory results. Our specialists will provide free recommendations according to the outcome of the tests, to help you with your next action steps in keeping your home disease-free.

+Duncan Hollis