What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria. You usually get it by breathing in mist from water that contains the bacteria. The mist may come from water outlets that are not used frequently, such as:
- Showers taps and baths (especially spray taps)
- Cooling towers
- Air conditioning units
- Hot tubs/jacuzzis
- Showers and taps in guest rooms
- Outside water taps
- Taps and showers within void properties
- Taps and showers in staff rooms
The disease does not spread from person to person.
Who is at risk?
Everyone is susceptible to infection, but there are those who are at higher risk:
- Those over 45 years of age
- Smokers and heavy drinkers
- The elderly and infirm
- Those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
- Those with impaired immune systems e.g. transplant patients
How to reduce the risk of legionella in your home
- Clean your taps regularly and remove the scale (legionella bacteria can grow in scale that builds up on a tap)
- Flush all water outlets that are not used regularly every week (remember to flush both hot and cold water taps)
How to flush water outlets
- Remove plugs so the water can run away
- Showers – hold the showerhead below waist height
- Open the outlet so water comes out at a steady flow. The water should not be fast enough to cause the water to splash back and become an aerosol that could be breathed in. The flow should be fast enough for all the water within the section of the pipework to be released.
- Keep the water turned on for a minimum of three minutes. For larger homes, do this for five minutes
- Then simply turn the water off
More information can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/what-you-must-do.htm