Every year in the UK there are 350 reported cases of Legionnaire's disease, which is the most serious strain of Legionella and can result in death. You can only get infected by inhaling small droplets of water which contain the bacteria. So, how does this bacteria grow and how can you prevent it?
The best way to tackle Legionella is through heat. Hot water should be stored at above 60°C and cold water should be stored below 20°C, as the Legionella bacteria thrives at temperatures between this.
Legionella grows in stagnant waters, so after a period of your water systems not being used eg. after a long holiday away from home. In this case let the water run for a while to get rid of any stagnant water in the system. Also clean out shower heads and other areas where water may 'sit' for a while.
The symptoms of Legionnaire's Disease are:
- mild headaches
- muscle pain
- high temperature (fever), usually 38C (100.4F) or above
- changes to your mental state, such as confusion
Legionella can affect anyone, however most at risk are:
- Those over 45 years of age
- Heavy drinkers
- Those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
- People whose immune system is impaired.