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Legionella strikes hotels and hospitals when we least expect it. Last year, Chicago hotels experienced legionella outbreaks, according to sources at the hotels.

What is legionella? This is the pathogenic grouping of negative bacteria. When there is a legionella outbreak, it can cause people to come down with what is called “Legionnaires Disease”. Legionella is common for many environments to have; it is common to have in soil and aquatic systems with 50 species of legionella identified to date.

Legionella outbreaks are becoming a more and more prevalent problem in the United States; these outbreaks are often fatal to those who catch Legionnaires Disease.

Legionella bacteria happen naturally and with ease in our environment and like to make their home in water sources; they can be present in just about any water supply, even in controlled areas like chlorinated municipal water supplies. The legionella bacteria prefer stagnant water of moving water, the bacteria thrive in stagnant water that is a temperature between 68 degrees and 126 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that legionella can be present in swimming pools or even hot tubs. When the bacteria are in their favorite home, they can become a large scale problem as their ability to multiply and thrive is fast and unnoticeable.

While anyone can contract the legionella bacteria, people who have deficient immune systems are much more vulnerable to Legionnaires Disease than those who have healthy, strong immune systems. An infection from legionella happens when the water that contains the bacteria is aerosolized into droplets or mist and then inhaled by an individual. The infection does not happen when we are in physical contact with the water or when we drink it; bottom line, it has to be inhaled.

Infected water systems that are able to spread the legionella bacteria include:

  • Hot water sources such as showers, hot tubs, pools, etc.
  • Cold water sources such as drinking fountains, ice makers, or even decorative fountains.
  • Cooling towers.

Legionella bacteria are able to hide and remain undetected as they reproduce in biofilm that other biocides are incapable of penetrating and removing. Cities have miles and miles of pipelines that are carrying water everyday. These pipelines, any main water breaks, or even storms are able to compromise an entire city’s water supply; a primary city water treatment facility is only marginally effective at eliminating the legionella bacteria from the water. The treatment plants are limited to the amounts and potency of biocides that they are allowed to handle. Organizations are passing guidelines, such as ASHRAE, and will require legionella plans that accommodate secondary disinfection, in the near future.

Chlorine dioxide is the perfect match for legionella and is capable of eliminating it, as well as the biofilm, in which they like to proliferate. Learn how PureLine can help you protect against Legionella.