A recent survey done in a couple of corporate companies claimed that a recurrent cough, muscle aches, shortness of breath and diarrhea were the most common problems within the employees. Initially, it was assumed that the changing weather is the cause and the cold which hit post that. But once when the Facility manager got the Legionella test done as recommended by the Corporate Safety Consultant, Legionella pneumonia was detected.
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age but some people are at higher risk including:
- people over 45 years of age
- smokers and heavy drinkers
- people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
- diabetes, lung and heart disease
- anyone with an impaired immune system
If conditions are favorable, the bacteria may grow increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease and it is therefore important to control the risks by introducing appropriate measures outlined in
Where does it come from?
Legionella bacteria are widespread in natural water systems, e.g. rivers and ponds. However, the conditions are rarely right for people to catch the disease from these sources. Outbreaks of the illness occur from exposure to Legionella growing in purpose-built systems where water is maintained at a temperature high enough to encourage growth, e.g. cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools used in all sorts of premises (work and domestic).
How do people get it?
People contract Legionnaires’ disease by inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols), suspended in the air, containing the bacteria. Certain conditions increase the risk from legionella if:
- the water temperature in all or some parts of the system may be between 20-45 °C, which is suitable for growth
- it is possible for breathable water droplets to be created and dispersed e.g. aerosol created by a cooling tower, or water outlets
- water is stored and/or re-circulated
- there are deposits that can support bacterial growth providing a source of nutrients for the organism e.g. rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms
Why is Legionnaire’s Disease a big concern?
This particular disease is said to affect the employees of the company which can take a toll over the productivity and the activities of the entity. Following are the areas to be affected.
1. The health of the working population
2. Performance of an Individual/Team
3. Inability to deliver the said tasks and meet goals
4. A decrease in the annual turnover of the company
5. Lowering the brand equity
6. Eventually, high attrition rates/layoffs/business shut down
How does Legionnaire’s Disease spread in a corporate company?
Water systems like cooling towers and air-conditioning systems in the form of mists or aerosols that are inhaled by people are the main sources of the spread of disease. Non-communicable in nature, there are various ways through which the disease can be contracted –
1. Showers and Faucets
2. Cooling towers (used in large buildings for cooling)
3. Hot tubs, fountains and water features that are not cleaned regularly
4. Plumbing systems
What are the Preventive Measures?
Every Corporate Company needs to do a regular water check through which the probabilities of diseases increases. It’s not just the drinking water which needs to be maintained but also different forms of water available at the premises. Building owners and Facility Managers are the concerned authorities who look after the maintenance and should be aware of the latest techniques of prevention.
How will the Legionella Test help?
Only with the identification, can you work towards the preventive measures against Legionnaire’s disease. Depending on the severity of the level of micro-organism contamination, the maintenance, use of better quality water, using new faucets and pipeline, as well as their quality check.
The effects of the disease are massive and should be taken care of by the Facility Managers of every Corporate Company.
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