Legionella is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria which is also non-spore forming. It is known for causing Legionnaire’s disease, which is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. It is contracted by individuals when they inhale the aerosol droplets that contain Legionella.

Its symptoms include a productive cough which may contain blood, nausea, gastric problems, and a confused mental state. Another disease which may be caused by the Legionella Bacteria is Pontiac Fever.

Legionella Risk Assessment

If you believe you are at a potential risk of being exposed to the bacteria, you first need to do some Legionella Risk assessment.

Here are all the risky areas that present you with a risk of being exposed to Legionella:

  • Any sort of body of water that contains water that is between 20ºC and 40º The growth of the bacteria is inhibited between 40ºC and 59ºC and it is killed at temperatures that rise above 60ºC. this means that any body of water in your workplace that contains room-temperature water could present a potential risk.
  • Corners and nooks with nutritional sources like sludge or corroded material.
  • The formation of a biofilm which is water with a surface layer of bacteria.
  • A Stagnant or stationary body of water is a great way for the Legionella bacteria to easily grow.

The most commonly known places where Legionella grows is water-based areas. So you need to be very vigilant if your workplace contains any of the following:

  • A heating and cooling system in the building that uses water to work.
  • A water spraying system for the summers
  • A pool system.
  • A car-wash or power-wash system
  • A water fountain
  • Dental equipment with the water supply

Even if the occurrence of Legionella-caused diseases is not very common, you need to be vigilant about handling the risk if you are potentially exposed to it. There are some people who are more susceptible to being attacked by Legionella than others. These include:

  • People who are immunocompromised (People with weak immune systems)
  • Elderly or middle-aged people
  • People who smoke frequently

It is rare for young and healthy people to catch the disease. You must manage the risk in your workplace especially if any of the above-mentioned categories of people are clients, workers or maintenance workers in your workplace.

Risk management

  • The first step in risk management is identifying the risk; see your workplace is exposed to the risk by considering the options given above.
  • Ask a biologist to test the water systems for Legionella and other aerobic bacteria.
  • Bring all the water systems in the building to a temperature above 60ºC to kill the bacteria
  • Regularly clean and change the water in pools and other water systems.

Conclusion

Legionella causes a potentially fatal disease. Being exposed to the risk is unavoidable at times but if you assess the risk well, you can easily manage it and remain safe.

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