Legionellosis

Potential Aerosols from Showers

Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia like illness caused by legionella bacteria, including the most serious Legionnaires’ disease.

  • Infection is caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by the bacteria.

  • Common symptoms include coughing, breathlessness, high fever, muscle aches and headaches and usually appear 5-6 days after infection but may take longer.
  • Everyone is potentially susceptible to infection but some people are at higher risk. Not everyone who is exposed to Legionella will get ill but the following are more at risk:

    - Workers over age of 40

    - Smokers and heavy drinkers

    - Those with compromised immune systems

    - Those with pre-existing lung diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

    - People with chronic underlying disease such as diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, chronic liver failure,     those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease

    - Travel abroad is an important risk factor.

    The risk of acquiring legionella infection is related to the individual’s susceptibility and the degree and intensity of exposure.

Under general health and safety law you must consider the risks from legionella that may affect your staff or members of the public and take suitable precautions. As an employer or person in control of a place of work you must:

  • Identify and assess sources of risk.

  • Prepare a scheme (or course of action) for preventing or controlling the risk.

  • Implement and manage the scheme – appointing a person to be managerially responsible i.e. the responsible person.

  • Keep records and check that what has been done is effective.

For further information see: