Legionnaires’ disease, also known as Legionellosis, is a type of pneumonia, which can potentially be fatal although it varies in severity from case to case. Those most at risk are the elderly and the very young, male over 50’s, the ill and smokers to name a few. Legionella bacteria can also cause other, less harmful illnesses such as Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever, which can affect all people.
The main route of infection is through inhalation, by inhaling airborne water droplets that contain Legionella Bacteria. It cannot be spread from person to person and the majority of cases or outbreaks of the disease have been via domestic water systems, evaporative cooling towers, poorly maintained artificial water systems and spa pools.
In basic terms, the more the legionella bacteria is allowed to grow given favourable conditions, the higher the risk is of someone contracting Legionnaires’ disease and falling seriously ill. It is crucial therefore to take correct measures to control the growth of the bacteria and assess the risk of infection as outlined in the ACOP L8 guidelines.