Legionella bacteria is commonly found in water. The bacteria multiply where temperatures are between 20-45°C and nutrients are available. The bacteria are dormant below 20°C and do not survive above 60°C.
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia, contracted by inhaling airborne water droplets containing viable Legionella bacteria. Such droplets can be created, for example, by: hot and cold water outlets; atomisers; wet air conditioning plant; and whirlpool or hydrotherapy baths.
Anyone can develop Legionnaires’ disease, but the elderly, smokers, alcoholics and those with cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory or kidney disease are at more risk.
To help reduce the risk of Legionnaires disease the following actions should be taken:
- Hot water should be stored at a minimum of 60°C.
- At least once every three months shower heads and hoses should be dismantled, cleaned and de-scaled.
- Any units which are not regularly used must be flushed through and allowed to drain either weekly or immediately before use.
- Ensure that there are no unnecessary areas of stagnant or standing water.
You can find more information on Legionnaires disease on the NHS Website