Legionella bacteria are microorganisms that can cause serious infections in humans.
Legionnaires' disease was first described in 1976 after an outbreak of pneumonia erupted during the American Legion Congress in Philadelphia among congress participants staying at the hotel. A total of 221 people were affected and 34 people lost their lives.
There are more than 40 species of this bacterium, which is common in nature. More than 20 species of Legionella can cause infection in humans. However, the most common cause of infection in the clinic is L. pneumophila.
Legionella bacteria are spontaneous in the environment. Artificial water systems can create environments favorable for high numbers of Legionella bacteria. Rivers, lakes, thermal waters, muds and spring waters, which are the natural habitats of Legionella bacteria, are most suitable for the growth of Legionellae between 25 ° C and 45 ° C. They die above 60 ° C, it is almost impossible to multiply below 20 ° C.
Here are the risky environments for Legionella bacterial growth:
- hot and cold water systems and tanks
- baths, spa pools, swimming pools and thermal spas
- Pipes with little or no water flowing through
- Showers, shower heads and taps
- Garden watering systems
- Central air conditioners, fire hoses
- decorative pools and fountains
How does Legionella bacteria spread to humans?
There are two main reasons for bacterial infection.
According to the first, the bacteria first settles in the upper respiratory system and reaches the lungs.
According to the latter, as the water becomes small water droplets (aerosols) and hangs in the air, these droplets containing the bacteria reach the lung by breathing.
Any contact with water containing legionella does not cause health problems. Legionella-containing water (for example, when taking a shower, in air-conditioning systems, in whirlpools) can be drawn into the lungs while breathing, which can lead to infection.
In healthy individuals with normal immune systems, infection is often not developed even if the bacteria have passed on to humans. In order for the disease to occur, the individual must have some risk factors. The most important risk factors are those that weaken the person's respiratory resistance or overall body resistance.
Elderly people with low body resistance and smokers are at risk. This bacterium can result in death at an advanced stage.
Symptoms of the disease
Symptoms occur between 2 to 10 days in people exposed to the causative agent. Fever, weakness, muscle aches, anorexia, headache may start with symptoms such as. However, the first notable symptom is cough. While the cough starts dry and mild at the beginning, blood can be seen as a line on the sputum.
In order to prevent Legionella growth and prevent Legionella disease, it is very important to identify and disinfect the environments where bacteria are present.
In case of suspicion of infection, water should be heated above 70 ° C without waiting for maintenance and disinfection, and faucets, shower heads, and hot water should be washed for 30 minutes.
Disinfection of the systems used should be done regularly and properly.
Apart from the precautions taken from all this information, routine controls should be performed.
In our laboratory, Legionella Risk Assessment and Analysis from ISO 17020 and Legionella Determination accredited to ISO 17025 are performed.
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