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HATS Heating & Technical Services: Legionnaires Disease Control

Legionella bacteria are common in natural water systems e.g. rivers and ponds but are normally only found in small numbers. However, if the conditions are favourable then the bacteria will grow and so increase the risk of Legionnaires Disease (NB this is rare from these sources).

Most often outbreaks of Legionnaires are caused by the exposure to Legionella growing in purpose built systems, where water is maintained at higher temperatures encouraging growth of the bacteria. Such systems include those with a cooling tower, an evaporative condenser and hot water systems used in both commercial and domestic premises.

Contraction of Legionnaires Disease is by inhalation of water droplets infected with the Legionella bacteria. There is no evidence to show that this is a communicable disease. Symptoms include high fever, chills, headache, muscle pain and a dry cough. Most suffer with difficulty with breathing and some may develop diarrhoea, vomiting and confusion.

It is therefore important to control the risks of Legionnaires disease by implementing the measures outlined in The Control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8):