Compared to people elsewhere, patients in hospitals and nursing homes are at a higher risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease. According to a recent study conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the chances of the general population developing Legionnaires’ disease and dying from it is approximately 10 percent. Patients, on the other hand, have a 25 percent chance of dying from the disease.
Because of the age of the residents, care home inhabitants are no different from hospital patients. Here are some of the reasons why care home Legionella testing is critical for this type of long-term care facility.
About Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionella is a type of bacteria that causes a deadly form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease. People can catch the disease when they breathe in droplets of water that are contaminated with Legionella.
The bacteria can thrive in a number of environments. Examples are if the water is stagnant, water temperatures are between 20°C and 45°C, there is minimal disinfection of water, or if the building’s water systems have not been managed properly.
Sources of Legionella
In a care home, showers and taps are some of the primary channels for getting into contact with the bacteria. However, these are not the only ones. Humidifiers, nebulisers and other respiratory equipment could also be infected if they have been cleaned with contaminated tap water.
Reasons for Legionella testing
1. Only a small percentage of people are likely to acquire the disease after being exposed to the bacteria, however, people over 50 have weaker immune systems and are therefore more prone to infection. Also, existing health conditions and lifestyle choices can increase this risk. If the person is or was a smoker, or suffers from chronic disease, they are likelier to get sick when exposed to the bacteria.
2. Individuals living in a care home often have a set routine, and some activities typically involve water. Other than taking hot baths, this includes doing water exercises and steaming. These types of water activities can increase their exposure to contaminated water.
3. Even changes in the weather can affect how fast the bacteria can multiply. By regularly testing the water, home care managers can prevent the bacteria from multiplying and spreading throughout the facility.
AquaCert offers care home testing kits for the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease. Facility managers can simply collect samples from the taps and shower heads, have them sent to the AquaCert laboratory, and wait for the results to arrive. Testing the water is a quick and practical way of making sure that it is safe for use.