With the arrival of winter, extreme temperatures lead us to spend a lot of time in enclosed spaces, environments conducive to the spread of respiratory infections such as legionellosis and gastrointestinal diseases.
In recent weeks we have read how in two nursing homes in Zaragoza and Huesca there have been outbreaks of gastroenteritis and legionellosis, respectively, which have left dozens affected and have led the authorities to open an investigation and file.
On the other hand, last week workers from the Loiu airport in Bilbao were banned from showering after finding Legionella bacteria in a heater that serves employees’ bathrooms.
The action against outbreaks of legionellosis involves recognizing what Legionella consists of, what is its form of infection, its symptoms, and its treatment. From Rentokil Initial we have proposed to answer your questions and clarify many of your doubts about this aquatic bacteria. We start!
Is it really a bacterium?
Yes, and it is shaped like a bacillus, with sizes ranging from 0.5 to 0.7 microns wide by 2 to 20 microns long. It usually lives and multiplies in controlled environments between 20 and 45 degrees.
As it is an aquatic bacterium, it is common to reach urban distribution networks such as sanitary water facilities, cooling towers, irrigation systems or even swimming pools. In these spaces, it reproduces and comes into contact with people, although it causes diseases only if the water is sprayed and inhaled.
Forms of contagion.
Legionellosis is transmitted by air from the inhalation of contaminated water spray or spray, provided that the amount of bacteria in the water is high.
There is a higher incidence of development of legionellosis in patients with previous illnesses or the elderly, but in no case does it occur from person to person or by ingestion of contaminated water.
There are usually two variants of pathology:
- Pneumonia, legionellosis or legionnaire’s disease: which includes fever, cough, chills, headache, and muscle. It is usually incubated for 2 to 10 days and can be fatal if not treated on time.
- Pontiac fever: fever accompanied by muscle, joint and cough pains. It is usually easily treated with antibiotics.
Treatment against Legionella.
In 2018, the European Parliament proposed measures to improve the quality of drinking water that reaches homes and businesses to control Legionella and help prevent the spread of the disease.
Cold or hot water systems, ornamental fountains, sprinkler irrigation systems, air humidifiers, cooling towers, hot tubs, urban cleaning vehicles and car wash tunnels, among others, must be treated and reviewed with some regularity to prevent them from becoming sources of infection.
These reviews should be carried out by professionals experienced in control of the bacteria who can both detect an epidemic and proceed to eradicate it.
From Rentokil Initial we have the specialized staff, while we offer you specific updated training with the latest developments in the maintenance of facilities in hotels, sports centers, public buildings, health centers, and neighboring communities, among other areas.
The first thing we do is a study of risk facilities to diagnose the problem based on assessment guides.
After detecting the risk, a Maintenance and Self-Control Program is created from Rentokil Initial, which takes into account all the measures to be taken, among which are:
- The creation of a hostile environment by modifying the water temperature, the amount of chlorine and purging the system
- The elimination of the microorganisms that make up the biolayer from which Legionella feeds. This is achieved by eliminating and avoiding lime deposits, scale, and sludge.
- Apply other treatments provided for in Royal Decree 865/2003, which includes the protocols and hygienic-sanitary measures necessary for the prevention and control of Legionella.