September 3rd, 1978: The Sunday-Star News
Per a study by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), people contracted Legionnaires’ disease (LD) from a health care facility in 76% of locations reporting exposures.
Legionnaires’ disease kills 25% of those who contract it from a health care facility. Those with an increased risk for LD are adults 50 years or older, current and former smokers, and people with a weakened immune system or chronic disease.
Most problems in the US are linked to health care-associated outbreaks, however, Legionella bacteria can grow in water systems in office buildings, cruise ships, hotels, and residential homes.
These contaminated water droplets can be spread by:
- Showerheads and sink faucets.
- Water heaters
- Drinking fountains
- Hot tubs/spas
- Hydrotherapy equipment, such as jetted therapy baths.
- Medical equipment, such as respiratory machines, bronchoscopes, and heater-cooler units.
- Ice machines.
- Decorative fountains and water features.
- Cooling towers
- Municipal water systems
Outbreaks can be prevented with effective water management:
- Keep hot water temperatures high.
- Make sure disinfectant amounts are correct.
- Prevent stagnation of water.
- Maintain equipment to prevent biofilm, organic debris, and corrosion.
- Monitor changes in water quality.
Health care facility managers can:
- Work with healthcare providers to identify LD cases early and determine if the cases may be associated with the facility.
- Implement a Legionella-specific water management program.