What is Legionnaires’ Disease?
Legionnaires’ Disease, caused by Legionella pneumophila or other Legionella bacteria, is a type of atypical pneumonia. It’s an example of legionellosis, which is a broader category of illnesses caused by the Legionella bacteria, including Pontiac fever and Pittsburgh pneumonia. Legionnaires’ Disease, however, is the most common disease that manifests from Legionella bacteria in humans.
The Legionella Bacteria
The Legionella bacteria often spreads through water or water systems, as it very rarely spreads from human-to-human contact. The bacteria grows naturally in freshwater, but can spread through man-made water systems of hot tubs, decorative fountains, swimming pools, hot water tanks, cooling towers, and hospital water systems. Biofilm build-up in water systems permits for the Legionella bacteria to grow, and it sloughs off into the water system’s circulation. The infections can occur at any time of year, but often seem to peak in frequency in the fall months.
Those with Legionnaires’ Disease are likely to start seeing symptoms two to ten days after being infected with Legionella bacteria. The preliminary symptoms to develop in most patients are a headache, muscle aches, and a fever. As the infection progresses, other symptoms might pop up, including a cough, mucus buildup, a shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal distress (i.e. vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea), and mental confusion. While these symptoms alone can be caused by a number of other infections that could go away on their own, if an individual suspects any exposure to Legionella bacteria, it’s best to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
A medical professional will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics, along with other treatments, to shorten the recovery period and ensure that complications don’t develop. This is important for anyone, but especially those at a heightened risk of complications in a lung infection like Legionnaires’ Disease, such as the elderly, the immunocompromised, and frequent smokers.
How Does Chlorine Dioxide Combat Legionella and Legionnaires’ Disease?
Chlorine dioxide is an oxidizing biocide composed of chlorine and oxygen, which has been proven effective in eliminating Legionella bacteria in cooling towers and hospital water systems. The compound works by eliminating the bacteria at the source, thus preventing its spread to humans. Chlorine dioxide works to eliminate the bacteria at its source, and it inhibits biofilm to prevent growth of Legionella and the eventual contraction of legionellosis among individuals breathing in air with infected droplets.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 9 out of 10 CDC investigations show that almost all outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease were caused by problems preventable with more effective water management. Thus, any large-sized building owner or operator looking to prevent a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak at their facility should invest in proper maintenance of their water treatment systems. Using chlorine dioxide for regular preventative treatment is one way to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’.
PureLine is home to chlorine dioxide application experts, skilled with significant experience in inhibiting biofilm and controlling legionella in cooling towers at hospitals, food processing plants, and healthcare facilities. To learn more about your options for using chlorine dioxide, either as a preventative measure or in the case of an outbreak, to prevent Legionella spread and Legionnaires’ Disease contraction, fill out the form below and a PureLine representative will reach out promptly.