How much do you know about legionnaires’ disease? Legionnaires’ disease causes Legionella, which can lead to pneumonia. It is a type of bacteria that lives and grows in warm water and is responsible for also causing Pontiac Fever. Collectively, both of these conditions are known as Legionellosis, and there are believed to be around 6,000 cases of the illnesses each year reported in the United States.
Why Is Legionellosis Harmful?
Symptoms of Legionellosis typically develop within 2 to 10 days after exposure. Initial symptoms include:
- Muscle or body aches
- Fevers of 104 F
As the illness progresses, people often experience:
- Severe coughing
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea
- Changes in Mental Abilities
It’s important to note that legionella often requires a hospital stay in order for the individual to heal. Pontiac Fever is usually less severe and symptoms usually resolve on their own.
Aging Water Pipes, Corrosion and Legionella
The bacteria that causes legionnaires’ disease thrives best in warm water that has the nutrients or organic material it needs to survive, thrive and multiply. Corroded water pipes can provide a source of food. Specifically, when metal pipes are corroded by acidic water, they lose their protective coatings, allowing iron to leach into the water. Once this occurs, any legionella bacteria present in the system will begin to multiply and thrive, which could spell disaster for the health of your Chicago building’s residents.
Where Does Legionella Live Inside Buildings?
Legionella can live anywhere there is warm water. This includes:
- Air conditioning systems
- Birthing pools
- Drinking water
- Hot tubs
- Hot water tanks
- Water heaters
Who’s Most Susceptible to Legionellosis Infection?
People at a higher risk of developing legionellosis are probably living in your building, so it’s important to make sure all your water systems are clean, well-maintained, and in good condition. Remember, you can’t see legionella bacteria with your naked eye, but you can notice when water is dirty or smells off, and you can get regular cleaning and maintenance of all your water pipes, chillers, pools, and hot tubs.
- People with compromised immune systems (due to chronic illnesses or medications)
- Individuals who have certain chronic diseases, including diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer
- Anyone older than 50
How Is Legionella Contracted?
It is primarily contracted by inhaling contaminated water. While this may seem impossible, it’s important to note that aspiration happens. If someone in your building accidentally chokes and inhales water droplets from contaminated drinking water or inhales fine mist that is produced by circulating fountains and faulty air conditioning units, they can develop the illness and become very sick.
Detecting Legionella Bacteria
As a property manager, you should know the status of your drinking water before your residents start developing symptoms of bacterial pneumonia. This means that you should periodically have your pipes tested for bacteria and other contaminants, like excessive levels of lead and iron, and you should schedule a pipe assessment to determine the levels of corrosion in your water pipes. If contaminants or legionella bacteria are found, you can take steps to sterilize your pipes and prevent further corrosion. Not to mention, you’ll be helping your residents stay healthy.
Stop Corrosion with Pipe Lining from Nu Flow
If you are worried about the corrosion levels in your residential building’s water pipes, our pipe lining experts can perform a building pipe assessment to determine how much corrosion and debris is in your pipes and estimate the remaining expected useful life. During the assessment, we can also tell you if your plumbing pipes are good candidates for the pipe lining process and provide you with an estimate.
Lining your pipes with a pipe liner or epoxy coating prevents further corrosion by preventing water from reaching the surfaces of your pipes. The lining process itself also ensures that your pipes are clean and free of any debris, which eliminates the food source for the legionella bacteria. This is because the interior surfaces of your pipes must be thoroughly cleaned and all the rough corrosion and debris must be removed prior to lining your pipes.
To learn more about how pipelining can prevent corroded water pipes and extend their useful lives, contact us at 815-790-9000.