Source of Legionella in Water: In 1976 during an American Legion conference in Philadelphia, an illness outbreak made 221 people ill, and eventually 34 died. Scientists were unable to discover what caused the illnesses; until December 1977 when microbiologists were able to isolate a bacterium from the autopsy of one of the legionnaires. The bacterium was named "Legionella pneumonia." Legionella breeds particularly well in heated environments. Sources can include industrial cooling towers, large ac systems, residential hot water systems, fountains, showers, and hot tubs. Many businesses and governmental agencies have developed guidelines for preventing or controlling the growth of legionella bacteria in water.
Symptoms of Legionella or Legionnaires' Disease: Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease can look very similar to pneumonia; these symptoms usually begin between 2-14 days after exposure. The person infected may have coughing, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Older people and those with a weakened or suppressed immune system are especially in danger if they contract this infection.
Water Treatment Solutions for Legionella: If you or your family frequents gyms or clubs with hot tubs or saunas, ask the caretakers if proper disinfection methods are used so that the bacteria are not allowed to colonize. Since the primary method of exposure is through hot, steamy situations, the best way to protect your home is through a whole house system. This will make sure that all of the water in the showers and baths are safe for your family. Chlorination can be used to shock the pipes before the installation of a water treatment system to avoid recolonization and possible repeat exposure. Ultraviolet sterilization systems can be used at the water's point of entry to disable the bacteria's ability to infect. To avoid colonization downstream, follow the system manufacturer's directions for disinfecting the plumbing system before installation and when changing the UV lamp.