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Cruise ships provide the ideal habitat for the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease to thrive and multiply. In a cruise ship, people can get infected by using the ship’s contaminated taps or showers. Testing for Legionella bacteria is recommended to keep all travelers and staff safe from developing Legionnaires’ disease during the voyage.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia that can be fatal. It can affect anybody, although certain individuals are more prone to developing the disease. This includes kids, the elderly, pregnant women and individuals with compromised respiratory systems. A person can get infected by breathing in water droplets that contain the Legionella bacteria.

There are approximately 50 species of the bacteria. Not all of them cause the disease. Out of the lot, the bacteria under the species of Legionella pneumophila are the most dangerous. There are other forms of the bacteria that can cause the individual to develop flu like symptoms, but not Legionnaires Disease.

The bacteria are normally found in bodies of water like streams, rivers, ponds and reservoirs. Water taken from these sources is disinfected before it is used for bathing or other purposes. Small numbers of bacteria still survive but do not pose a problem until the water temperature and other conditions cause it them to multiply.

How you can get it inside a cruise ship

It is difficult to associate a cruise ship with Legionnaires’ disease because it takes several days for the symptoms to develop. People become exposed to the bacteria by using showers, hot tubs or other equipment which produces an aerosol that be breathed in by the user.

Preventing the spread of the bacteria

To prevent water from harbouring the bacteria, the staff must devise and follow a strict plan to disinfect the water on board the ship. To confirm the control measures are effective, it is good practice to regularly carry out testing for legionella bacteria.

AquaCert offers water testing kits that make it easier for staff to test the water. Each kit comes with sterile bottles that need to be filled up with samples of water taken from the ship’s taps/showers/hot tubs. A courier will come, pick up the samples and send them to a laboratory for examination. Once the results are ready, they will be sent to the staff or individual listed on the order form.