Contaminated water at hotels, resorts, long-term care facilities and hospitals appears to be the source of an increase in cases of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe and life threatening lung infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia. The illness is caused by the bacterium legionella, which is found naturally in freshwater environments, like lakes and streams. It can become a public health concern when it grows and spreads in human-made water systems such as hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use, hot water tanks and heaters, large plumbing systems, cooling towers (air-conditioning units for large buildings), and decorative fountains. The bacterium grows best in warm water.
Legionella spreads through droplets that are breathed in, but it can also be spread by aspiration of drinking water, such as when one swallows but the water goes “down the wrong tube” into the windpipe.
In its report, the CDC reviewed 27 building outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease from 2000 to 2014 at hotels, resorts, long-term care facilities, senior living facilities, and hospitals. They found that outbreaks happened in situations where workers had not used enough disinfectant, didn’t change filters often enough, or didn’t monitor their water pipes and storage areas properly. The most common way the disease was spread was through showering with infected water. The disease was also spread through air conditioning, hot tubs and decorative fountains.
The CDC urged building managers across the country to create plans to ensure that their water systems are safe. “Almost all Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are preventable with improvements in water system management,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said.
Source: Fox News