Legionella is the name of a bacteria that is found in fresh water in all areas of the world (such as lakes and springs). It is common for this bacterium to be found in fresh water, albeit in small quantities, but it can be fatal to humans if water droplets that are contaminated with Legionella bacteria are ingested. The risk of this increases when Legionella bacteria multiply so that higher levels are found in the source water.
In fresh water supplies, the conditions are rarely favourable for Legionella bacteria to multiply into higher numbers (which is why the number of bacteria in natural water is low). The bacteria live and grow in water with an optimum temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, but can also survive temperatures ranging from 20 to 50 degrees Celsius.
This is why any hot or cold-water system must be properly maintained to prevent desirable conditions for Legionella to grow; creating a higher risk of someone developing Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionella bacteria are the cause of Legionnaires’ disease, which is a pneumonia-like illness that, if left untreated, can cause fatal damage to the lungs. Legionnaires’ disease can commonly create flu-like symptoms in its sufferers, which can be cured with antibiotics.
How to control Legionella
The first step in doing this is by thoroughly risk assessing your water system. This will identify any potential issues that you may have with your water system so that you can create a management plan to address these issues to ensure that they do not develop into a risk of Legionnaires’ disease.
What is a Legionella management plan?
Tall Oaks Academy Trust have a water management plan to help reduce the risk of Legionella spreading in the water system and through to any facilities. The Legionella management plan includes all areas in our building that Legionella bacteria have the potential to multiply, so that steps can be taken to reduce that risk.