Legionella Causes, Treatment, & Prevention
Legionella pneumonia is a water-borne diseases that affects 8-18,000 Americans every year. Here's everything you need to know about Legionella bacteria and Legionnaire's disease.
What is Legionella?
Legionella is a type of bacteria. It is water-borne: it lives in freshwater regions. It can potentially infest surface and drinking water (source: National Laboratory of Medicine). The bacteria can infect humans and cause Legionnaire’s disease or Legionella Pneuomonia.
Legionnaire's Disease | What is Legionella Pneumonia or Legionellosis
Legionnaire’s disease is a type of severe pneumonia. It is also known as Legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia. Some (not all) cases involving a human getting infected by the Legionella bacteria can develop into Legionnaire’s disease.
Every year, up to 18,000 cases of Legionnaire’s disease are reported. In some cases, the disease can prove to be fatal.
Legionella Signs and Symptoms | Symptoms of Legionnaire's Disease or Legionella Pneumonia
Legionnaire’s disease has similar symptoms to pneumonia. Here are some potential signs and symptoms of Legionnaire’s Disease, according to the CDC:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
How long does it take for Legionella symptoms to show?
It can take 2 to 14 days for the above symptoms to be noticeable after someone gets infected by the Legionella bacteria.
Legionella Treatment | Is Legionnaire's Disease Fatal? How to treat Legionella pneumonia?
Legionnaire’s disease is treated using antibiotics. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required. Lung failure is a possible complication that may arise.
Unfortunately, 1 in 10 people who contract Legionnaire’s disease in the United States die from complications that arise because of the disease.
Legionella Causes | How does Legionella spread and cause Legionnaire's disease?
Legionella thrives in freshwater. Plumbing systems in homes and buildings can get infested by Legionella. Humans end up breathing small droplets of water present in the air routinely. When these droplets of water have Legionella present in them, the bacteria can infect humans.
Usually, Legionella does not spread between two humans like COVID-19.
Legionella Prevention | How to prevent Legionnaire's disease?
Prevention is the best cure. The most common way that humans come into contact with the Legionella bacteria is through infected plumbing systems in homes and other buildings like office, hotels, and restaurants. 9 out of 10 investigations into Legionnaire’s disease outbreaks show that the cause was related to ineffective plumbing systems.
Some routine best-practices can ensure Legionella bacteria does not infect plumbing systems:
- Keep stored hot water above 140 °F and stored cold water under 77 °F.
- Keep circulating hot water above 120 °F.
- Consider on-demand hot water systems that do not store potable water (tankless water heaters).
- Avoid dead legs. If dead legs and low-flow pipe runs exist, flush them at least once a week.
For more information, consider downloading our free eBook: Mitigating Legionella Risk in Water Heaters With Safer System Design.