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Legionella

Water hygiene in your home

Legionella Risk Management

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia which anybody can catch; although it’s more likely to affect those people who are susceptible because of their age, illness, poor immune system or because they are smokers. Most cases that are reported have been in people who are aged between 40 and 70. Legionnaires’ disease does not appear to multiply below 20°C and will not survive above 60°C and the main area of concern is stagnant water stored between 20°C and 45°C. However, there’s no evidence to show the disease is contagious and only 200 – 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported in the UK each year.

How do people get it?

People may catch Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air, which contain the bacteria and these small droplets can be produced by both taps and shower systems. However, it’s very unlikely that someone would contract Legionnaires’ disease from drinking water. In domestic properties the risk of Legionnaires’ disease is generally rated as low risk and this risk can be kept low by following a few simple tips:

  • If taps or showers in a property are not used for a week or more, each tap and shower should be run or flushed for at least two minutes.
  • Showerheads should be descaled and disinfected on a regular basis (i.e. every three months).
  • If your property is empty for long periods of time (i.e. over two weeks). This may be due to a hospital admission, extended holiday periods or another reason; then alternative arrangements should be made to run the hot and cold taps, flush the shower and toilet and clean and disinfect the showerhead.

 

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