Legionnaire’s disease and the flu have similar symptoms but the former can be fatal if left untreated. The disease is not common and hence is associated with a number of myths. Separating fact from fiction is not easy when it comes to diseases like this. Below are the five most common myths about Legionnaire’s disease.
Myth: All types of legionella bacteria cause Legionnaire’s disease
Fact: Legionella is typically found in fresh water like lakes and rivers. There are over 50 different variants of this bacterium. However, only around 20 variants affect humans. Legionella pneumophila is the most dangerous amongst these and causes Pontiac fever and legionnaires disease.
Myth: Legionnaire’s disease cannot be prevented
Fact: There is no vaccine that can protect people against Legionnaire’s disease but it can be prevented through other methods. The bacteria causing this disease thrives in warm water accumulated in hot tubs, fountains, heaters, showers and air conditioning cooling units. Hence, it is important to keep them as clean as possible and not allow water to stagnate here. Regular testing can also help detect and treat early signs of legionella.
Myth: Everyone is at equal risk of legionnaire’s disease
Fact: Firstly, this disease is extremely rare and affects less than 5% of the world’s population. However, not every is equally susceptible to it. In most cases, people suffering from this disease are over the age of 50 and it tends to affect more men than women. People with a compromised immune system or those already suffering from chronic kidney and respiratory diseases have a high risk of suffering from this disease. Smoking and drinking excessively also increases the risk of legionnaire’s disease.
Myth: Testing water supply for legionella is expensive
Fact: Testing your water supply system for legionella bacteria is easy and inexpensive. Water testing kits are easily available for all sizes and types of water systems. These kits typically contain a sterilized bottle and self-addressed packet. To test your water, all you need to do is fill the bottle with water from a faucet or shower and send it to the lab for testing or ask the lab to collect it from your home. Testing a water sample can take upto 14 days as the sample must be cultured and then tested. See this website for further details:https://www.aquacert.co.uk/legionella-testing-kits-uk/. If you live in your own house, this is your responsibility, but if you live in an apartment complex, testing the water is understood to be the landlord’s responsibility.
Myth: It is difficult to kill legionella bacteria
Fact: If detected, legionella bacteria can be killed in a number of ways. This includes the use of chemicals like bleach or chlorine, extremely high temperature and ultraviolet radiation. These may be used in combination or by themselves.