Health experts warn about possibility of Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak 6 months ago

Health experts warn about possibility of Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak

The illness is acquired by the inhalation of aerosolised water.

The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has urged the public to be aware of Legionnaires’ Disease, an illness caused by the growth of Legionella bacteria in water systems that are not adequately managed.

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Legionnaires’ Disease is a type of pneumonia which causes serious illness in people aged over 50 years, smokers, and those with underlying health conditions.

The HPSC warned that the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a lot of businesses and buildings closed for an extended period of time.

"This can increase the risk of Legionella growth in the water systems and associated equipment including evaporative air conditioning systems, water fountains, showers, spa pools, and other equipment if the water systems have not been managed adequately," the HPSC said in a statement.

The illness is acquired by the inhalation of aerosolised water contaminated with Legionella bacteria and has a case fatality rate of around 10%.

It usually starts with flu-like symptoms including fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle pains, which may be followed by a dry cough and breathing difficulties that may progress to severe pneumonia.

The advice issued by the HPSC is primarily aimed at hotels, campsites, cruise ships and similar establishments but is also relevant to all public, residential and office buildings with similar water systems.