What is it?
Legionnaires’ Disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria which are found naturally in environmental water sources such as rivers and ponds. Infection occurs when droplets of contaminated water are inhaled. Men over the age of 45, smokers and anybody whose immune system is suppressed can be more at risk of infection.
How is it spread?
It is caught by breathing in water droplets from air conditioning, spa baths or water systems such as showers that have been infected with Legionella bacteria. The ideal temperature for Legionella to multiply is between 20 and 45°C and it thrives in water with lots of rust, algae, lime scale and organic particles. Legionnaires' disease does not spread from person to person.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease are similar to flu:
- high temperature, fever and chills
- muscle pains
How to avoid it
- At home run all your taps and showers at least once a week. Keep cold water below 20°C and hot water above 50°C. If you do this there is very little risk.
- When you go on holiday, make sure you run taps and showers in your accommodation when you arrive.
- If you are away from home for more than a week, take these actions when you get back:
- Open windows for fresh air
- Baths and basins – run taps gently for about 3 minutes
- Showers – put the showerhead on the bottom of the shower or bath and let it run for about 3 minutes