In recent years, dealing with Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, has become a big public health issue. This bacteria can be found in water systems like those in buildings, public water systems, and pipes. If not taken care of, it can lead to serious health problems and cost a lot of money. This article talks about why Legionella treatment is important and how it can prevent Legionnaires’ disease.

Health Risks of Legionella

Legionnaires’ disease is a very serious type of pneumonia that you can get by breathing in small water droplets that are infected with Legionella bacteria. This disease doesn’t pass from one person to another. Instead, it comes from water sources like showers, faucets, and air conditioning units. The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can be quite severe. They include coughing, having a hard time breathing, high fever, muscle pain, and headaches. If someone doesn’t get medical treatment quickly, the disease can lead to really bad lung problems and even death.

The people who are most at risk for getting Legionnaires’ disease are older adults, especially those over 50, people who smoke or used to smoke, and those with a weak immune system or chronic lung diseases like COPD. It’s important for these people to be extra careful and avoid places where Legionella might grow, like poorly maintained hot tubs or hot water tanks.

Another problem caused by Legionella is Pontiac fever, which is less serious than Legionnaires’ disease. It feels more like the flu, with symptoms like fever, chills, and muscle aches. Even though it’s not as severe, Pontiac fever is a reminder of why it’s so important to keep an eye on Legionella in water systems. By doing this, we can prevent not only Pontiac fever but also the more dangerous Legionnaires’ disease.

Money Problems from Ignoring Legionella Treatment

The financial consequences of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak can be massive. Here’s a closer look at the costs involved:

1. Medical Costs: Treating Legionnaires’ disease usually requires a stay in the hospital and special medical care. This can lead to huge medical bills. In severe cases, where patients need intensive care or long-term treatment, these costs can go through the roof. This puts a lot of pressure on both the healthcare system and the patients who might have to deal with these unexpected expenses.

2. Legal Costs: If public water systems or businesses didn’t do a good job keeping their water systems safe, they might face lawsuits. People who got sick or their families might sue for damages. This can lead to costly legal battles and big settlements or court awards. The legal fees alone can be a financial burden, not to mention any compensation they might have to pay if they lose the case.

3. Reputation Damage: An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease can harm the reputation of the place where it happened. This can be a hotel, a gym, or even a whole community . When the public hears about an outbreak, they might avoid that place, leading to a loss of customers or renters. This drop in business can reduce the property’s value and income.

4. Cleaning Costs: After an outbreak, there’s a lot of work to do to get rid of Legionella from the water system. This can include hiring experts, using special chemicals, and even replacing parts of the system. All of this can be expensive, with groups such as Westmoreland Manor paying over $24,000 in cleaning fees. Sometimes, the facility might have to close for a while to fix the problem, leading to even more lost income.

5. Fines: There are health and safety rules about controlling Legionella. If a business or building owner doesn’t follow these rules, they can be fined. These fines can be pretty big, adding to the financial impact of an outbreak.

In short, ignoring Legionella treatment can lead to a lot of financial problems. These can include direct costs like medical bills and cleaning expenses, as well as indirect costs like legal fees, lost business, and fines. It’s important for businesses and building owners to take Legionella control seriously to avoid these costs.

Water dripping from a faucet simulating the cost of ignoring Legionella treatment

Ways to Stop Legionella

Preventing Legionnaires’ disease is all about making sure water systems are well-maintained and safe. Here are some important steps to keep Legionella in check:

1. Risk Assessment: It’s crucial to regularly inspect public water systems and buildings to spot any places where Legionella might grow. This means looking at things like pipes,  hot water tanks, and any equipment where water is aerosolized to see if there are any problems or areas that need attention.

2. Water System Upkeep: Every building should have a plan for taking care of its water system. This plan should include regular tasks like cleaning and maintaining key parts of the system, such as the pipes coming into the building and the building equipment. Keeping these parts clean and in good shape can help prevent Legionella from growing.

3. Temperature Control: Legionella bacteria like to grow in warm water, so it’s important to keep hot water hot (at least 140°F) and cold water cold (below 68°F). This can help kill any bacteria in the hot water and stop them from growing in the cold water.

4. Disinfection: Using disinfectants like chlorine or UV light can help kill any Legionella bacteria that might be in the water system. It’s a good idea to use these methods regularly to keep the water safe.

5. Testing: To make sure that all these steps are working, it’s important to regularly test the water for Legionella. This can help catch any problems early and make sure that the water is safe for everyone.

By following these steps, building owners and managers can help prevent Legionnaires’ disease and keep people safe. It’s all about being proactive and staying on top of water system maintenance.

Conclusion

Ignoring Legionella treatment can lead to serious health risks and financial problems. By knowing the risks and taking steps to prevent Legionnaires’ disease, we can protect ourselves and our communities. It’s important for building owners, managers, and public health officials to work together to make sure water systems are safe from Legionella.