Legionella – What you need to know.

If you are new to the strange words ‘Legionella’ and ‘Legionnaires’ Disease’, hopefully this post will help you understand the basics.
Legionella bacteria are single celled microscopic living organisms that are all around us. They are commonly found in all natural water systems such as rivers, lakes and streams. It is unknown how many species of bacteria exist. It is suspected that the range of species are between 10 million to a billion. As bacteria adapt to suit their environment, there are consequently many different types of Legionella species.
The name of the bacteria ‘Legionella’ was given to this group of bacteria following the outbreak of an unknown disease which affected a  group of US military veterans attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia in 1976 and which resulted in 34 deaths. The disease was later labelled Legionnaires’ disease, caused by Legionella bacteria.
Legionella will enter domestic mains water systems via the municipal distribution network that supplies wholesome water to homes and businesses throughout the UK. This leads to small number of the bacteria that are likely to being present in all water systems.
Legionella is a single cell bacteria which will multiply by splitting and replicating the original cell if the conditions for growth are suitable. This will include water temperature, nutrients present and the usage of the water within the water system.
Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonic infection which typically infects people who have a suppressed immune system or other underlying disease.  In order to develop Legionnaires’ disease the bacteria have to enter the lungs, generally by the inhalation of aerosol droplets of water.
The highest risk of contracting legionnairs’ disease is from being in close proximity to water systems such as cooling towers, spa baths, showers and / or any other water systems that have the potential to produce aerosols.
Every employer including landlords have a legal obligation to assess the risk of exposure to legionella as outlined in the HSE Legionnaires’ disease The control of legionella bacteria in water systems ACOP L8 document
The guidance document HSG 274 Parts 1, 2 & 3 should also be used to assist with managing your water systems.
Free downloads of these document are available in the documents section of this website.
Contact GMS Services Ltd today for free advice on 01257 424459

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