Legionella is a type of bacteria that can cause a variety of health problems. Serious harm including death can occur if steps are not taken to deal with a Legionella outbreak. People can be exposed to Legionella by breathing in mist or small amounts of water that contain the bacteria.
What dangers does it pose?
Inhalation of the Legionella bacteria can lead to the development of Legionnaires Disease. This is a form of pneumonia which proves fatal in 10-15% of cases.
Treatment for Legionnaires Disease typically involves hospitalisation of the patient. Legionella is especially dangerous to people with compromised immune systems such as the elderly. Currently, a vaccination does not exist to protect from Legionella. The only way to protect from it is by ensuring the bacteria is not breeding or spreading in any of the areas mentioned.
Where can it be found?
Traces of the bacteria have been found in hot tubs, ice machines, cooling towers and even fountains. Warmer water tends to provide the ideal breeding conditions for Legionella but it has been found to survive in the cold and even being frozen.
ACE+ has found aged care homes to be particularly vulnerable to Legionella. In order to comply with health regulations, the hot water systems in these facilities must be fitted with regulators that prevent them from heating the water above 45 degrees Celsius. This is done to reduce the risk of vulnerable residents being scalded. This can also provide an optimal breeding ground for the Legionella bacteria. Most hot water systems become too hot for Legionella to breed and spread in. Regulators prevent the water being able to reach the temperature necessary to kill any traces. Aged care homes must protect their residents from the risk of scalding but in doing so place them at equal threat of exposure to Legionella.
How can it be treated?
Some aged care homes might have ultraviolet (UV) systems installed to sterilise water. These systems can work to curb other water hazards but are not 100% effective at curtailing the spread and growth of Legionella. ACE+ recommends that aged care homes conduct regular water testing to ensure that their system is safe. Water testing is a simple and cost-effective way to ensure peace of mind with your warm water system. For $300.00, ACE+ will test two samples of water for markers common to a Legionella outbreak.
If the testing comes back positive, ACE+ can immediately assist with treatment. A pasteurisation program undertaken by our licensed plumbers will quickly remove the threat from your water system. Keeping your system safe is as simple as signing up for the ACE+ maintenance program. Regular health checks from our experienced team will spot any potential issues before they can become hazards to your residents. ACE+ has worked with aged care homes around WA where Legionella has been discovered and we have the experience to help you.