The legionella bacterium is found in groundwater and surfaces of water, but in such small amounts that the bacterium isn’t harmful. However, this small amount of bacterium eventually will end up in our tap water.
It becomes dangerous when the bacterium get the chance to multiply in our tap water system. This multiplication takes place when the water temperature reaches between 25˚C and 50 ˚C. When the water is stagnated at this temperature, the bacterium is able to multiply itself explosively.
People get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) containing the bacteria. One example might be from breathing in droplets sprayed from a hot tub that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected. The bacteria are not spread from one person to another person.
The period between infection and the first symptoms is 2 to 18 days. Symptoms are: quick burgeoning headache, muscle pain, feeling sick, a high fever, coughing, weariness and confusion.
The disease is caused by the legionella bacterium and can occur in various forms. The mild form of infection is the legionella flu (sometimes called Pontiac fever). The severe form, the Legionnaires’ disease, is similar to a severe pneumonia.
Legionnaires’ disease is treatable if the doctor or specialist immediately prescribes the appropriate antibiotic. The more quickly this is done, the better. However, it may take a long time before the patient is fully recovered. Due to poor or late treatment, the patient can die.
When the laboratory notifies you that legionella is found in your (drinking) water system, you have to immediately ensure that no one gets sick of the bacterium. Subsequently, the cause of this infection will have to be examined through a source research. The cause will need to be removed before the detected contamination can be eliminated.