What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, which can affect anybody.
It is caused by the inhalation of small droplets of water from contaminated sources containing legionella bacteria.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those of flu:
- high temperatures
- fevers or chills
- muscle pains
- dry coughs.
Where is Legionella found?
All hot and cold water systems in residential properties are a possible source for legionella bacteria growth.
The main areas of risk are where the bacteria can multiply and increase to dangerous levels and then spread, e.g. in spray from showers and taps.
Conditions perfect for bacterial growth are where water of between 20°C and 45°C stagnates, and where there is sludge, rust and scale present for the bacteria to feed upon and multiply.
What precautions can I take?
- Flush through showers and taps for 10 minutes following a period of non-use (i.e. after you have been on holiday or if a room is not in regular use). When flushing the shower, try not to create any spray, either by removing the shower head or by catching the water in a plastic bag and disposing of it carefully
- Keep all shower heads and taps clean and free from a build-up of lime scale, mould or algae growth
- Flush toilet/s with the lid down following a period of non-use
- Drain hosepipes after use and keep out of direct sunlight. Flush through for a couple of minutes before filling paddling pools etc.
- Keep stored hot water in your system (Immersion heaters, cylinders etc.) at a temperature of 60°C or greater