People’s attention has been focused on public health and safety for some time now thanks to the worldwide pandemic surrounding the coronavirus that first appeared in late 2019. While the world has largely adjusted to the presence of COVID-19, it is not the only dangerous public health crisis that humanity may face.
In fact, as COVID gradually comes more and more under control, it may leave in its wake more health risks as industries readjust to pre-coronavirus working conditions. In order to keep people safe, it is vital that you understand why Legionnaires’ disease may pose a particular risk as coronavirus fades and businesses resume normal operations.
What Is Legionella And Where Does It Come From?
Legionnaires’ disease is an illness that arises from contact with the Legionella bacteria. Most private households have likely never really heard much about Legionella, but businesses must regularly keep this element on their radar as part of compliance and regulation strategies.
Legionella is a gram negative bacteria that thrives in stagnant, tepid water. It flourishes most readily at temperatures between 77 degrees and 108 degrees Fahrenheit, though it can survive up to 132 degrees. This means that most sources of usable water are vulnerable to Legionella, since this temperature range is commonly utilized for a wide variety of functions.
When the bacteria have formed enough colonies that they spread throughout the water system, any point of vaporization can expel them. Systems that produce mist, vapor, steam or aerosolized water can eject Legionella into the air in water droplets. Once airborne, these contaminated drops are very light and can travel for miles from their point of origin.
How Does Legionella Spread To Humans?
Once Legionella has been introduced into the air where it can travel, humans are placed at serious risk. Legionella droplets are invisible to the naked eye and have no smell or taste, so they are undetectable without special equipment to analyze the water they came from.
If contaminated droplets enter the eyes, nose, throat or other mucous membranes of the human body, the bacteria can make their way into the body and begin to cause health issues. Legionella is most commonly associated with Pontiac fever, an illness that resembles the flu, but it can also cause Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires’ is extremely dangerous and can prove fatal in anywhere from 10% to 25% of all who contract it, even if they are receiving appropriate medical care. It causes severe lung inflammation and pneumonia-like symptoms that typically come on quickly.
Why Is Legionnaires’ Disease A Risk Now More Than Ever?
More than ever, Legionnaires’ disease poses a significant public health risk as it follows on the coattails of COVID-19. As businesses have shut down or reduced operations at their facilities, their standard machinery such as cooling towers have likely been operating less often or not at all. This contributes to significant amounts of standing water that have not received the proper treatment and management during the shutdown.
As the world begins getting back to normal, experts expect a sudden influx of contaminated water usage as businesses ramp up operations once again. Legionella, which has had an opportunity to stake a foothold and grow while everyone has been away, may be the next big public health crisis if appropriate steps are not taken.
What To Do About Legionella As Industries Return To Normal
As industries return to their intended levels of operation, it is absolutely critical that they properly treat their water and spend time on disinfection and cleaning before turning their machinery back on.
Extra steps may need to be taken for facilities that have seen minimal or no usage for some time during the pandemic, but this is not a project that business owners must tackle alone. This is where experts who specialize in Legionella prevention and remediation can help. It is wise to contract the help of professionals experienced in the field so that you can rest assured that your facility will not be the cause behind someone’s severe illness or even death.
Trust The Experts To Help Your Business Prevent The Rise Of Legionnaires’ Disease
Whether you are trying to improve your Legionella prevention strategy or you are concerned that your facility may be vulnerable to an outbreak after the coronavirus pandemic and economic slowdown, do not hesitate to reach out to the experts for help getting back on track.
The professionals at Tower Water specialize in this specific issue and would be happy to help you understand the current state of your system and ideal next steps. Reach out to learn more or to schedule an appointment today, before you resume regular operations.