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10-02-2014 3.29

Frequently Asked Questions


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A CLOSE LOOK AT THE BACTERIA

Legionella is a Gram negative, rod-shaped bacteria measuring about 0.3-0.9 microns by 1.5-5 microns. It is an aerobic microbe, meaning that it requires oxygen to live, and has unusual nutritional requirements of high levels of the amino acid cysteine, inorganic iron and low concentrations of salt, as opposed to a large number of other pathogens. It is also unusually tolerant to high levels of chlorine,low pH and high temperatures.(they grow nicely at temperatures between 20 and 55 degrees Celsius).

 

THE LEGIONELLA FAMILY

There are currently at least 34 species of Legionella, and more than 23 serogroups of L. pneumophila. L. pneumophila serogroup 1 is responsible for more than 80% of all Legionella infections; however serogroups 4-6 and other species such as L. bozemanii, L. longbeachae, and L.maceachernii have been known to cause Legionnaires’ Disease as well.

 

WHERE DOES IT LIVE?

Legionella is ubiquitous in natural freshwater sources such as rivers, ponds and hot springs, usually living as parasites of a number of amoebae. They can also be found in the waters of;

 

  • Cooling Towers, Evaporative Condensers & Fluid Coolers
  • Potable Water System & Storage Tanks
  • Warm Water Systems
  • Air Handling Systems
  • Spas, Hydrotherapy Pools & Whirlpools
  • Fountains & Water Features
  • Humidifiers
  • Fire Sprinkler System
  • Safety Showers
  • Process Washing
  • Dental water lines
  • Ice Making Machines
  • Vehicle Washing

 

HOW DOES LEGIONELLA INFECT US?

The primary mode of transmission is by inhalation of aerosolized water droplets containing Legionella.

 

DOES EVERY ONE THAT IS EXPOSED TO THE LEGIONELLA BACTERIA DEVELOP LEGIONNAIRES DISEASE?

No. In most cases if you are healthy your immune system will fight and destroy the bacteria. Only 5% of people who contact the bacterium will get the disease.The most susceptible are people over the age of 50, smokers and drinkers, immune suppressed, people with existing respiratory problems and young children.

 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF INFECTION BY LEGIONELLA?

Pontiac Fever

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is the less severe form of Legionella infection, that manifests itself as a self-limiting flu-like illness.The incubation period is remarkably short in terms of hours to several days and symptoms will include muscle aches, fever, chills and headache. Patients will, however, typically recover completely within one week.

Legionnaires’ Disease is the more severe manifestation of Legionella infection. The incubation period for Legionnaires’ Disease is 2 to 10 days. Symptoms typically include a dry cough and difficulty in breathing, as well as flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, chills,and overwhelming lethargy. The onset of pneumonia is abrupt. Without medical treatment at this stage the prognosis is usually death.

 

HOW DO I REDUCE THE RISK OF LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE?

Firstly conduct a risk assessment on each of your water systems with your facility/plant and then implement a plan, that includes engaging an experienced water treatment company who can implement specific water treatment programs, dosing regimes, cleaning processes, testing and monitoring programs. Remove any stagnant water areas within your system. Where possible remove/limit access and exposure and use PPE.
Authorities around the world have put in place preventative measures in an attempt to combat legionnaires disease (Legionellosis). Australia leads the world in this area implementing laws, regulations, standards and guides.

 

SAS Water Solutions employ water treatment specialists and microbiologists who can assist with risk assessments and control programs.