Reports about various health risks can be quite alarming and concerning, but at the same time, they allow for the best preventive and corrective measures to be employed. This was the main objective of government reports that revealed the increase in the number of Legionnaires’ disease cases in the UK – for people to explore various preventive measures so they will not become part of the statistic.

Legionnaires’ disease is no joke, and while treatment is available, time can easily sneak up on those who have been infected; not getting timely and aggressive treatment can lead to a painful death, and that is most certainly something nobody would want to experience. Again, prevention is better than cure, and doing that would require a broad understanding of how people get exposed to the Legionella bacteria. Various reports reveal that Legionella bacteria can be present anywhere, and not just the typical water access systems such as your home’s taps, shower heads, bathtubs, hot tubs, or swimming pools; certain studies even claim that the bacteria have been found in soft ice cream machines, and even puddles.

Another unfortunate thing about Legionnaires’ disease is that it is more commonly found in care facilities such as elderly homes, rehabilitation centres, and even hospitals due to the frequent use of warm/hot water, which actually encourages the proliferation of the natural occurring bacteria. This indicates that those who are already physically weak, like elderly people and hospital patients, are actually more prone to contracting the disease.

Even more concerning is how London has proven to be at high risk because 70% of sites (mostly commercial areas) inspected in the city were found to be of insufficient standard, meaning they have no effective means of preventing the outbreak of the often fatal disease, which then clearly indicates that an outbreak is highly possible in the UK capital.

Prevention isn’t that difficult; routine Legionella water testing can easily do the trick. Regularly carrying this test out will identify where contamination occurs, and this will naturally allow for treatment to be implemented. The local government can impose that this preventive system be performed regularly, but individual homeowners can do their bit as well – they no longer have to merely entrust the health and safety of their household to authorities. Legionella water testing kits are available and affordable, and in addition to that, there are cleaning agents which have proven full efficacy against Legionella. All these can be utilised to ensure that private homes are free from the harmful Legionella bacteria.

+Duncan Hollis