According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionnaires’ disease is a severe pneumonia caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. (A milder flu-like form of the disease is called Pontiac fever. The two illnesses are also referred to as legionellosis.) Death can occur in 5-30 percent of Legionnaires’ disease cases.
Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. These bacteria grow best in warm water. People can contract Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in a mist containing the bacteria. The bacteria are not spread person-to-person.
Cooling towers are potential breeding grounds for Legionella bacteria if they are not properly maintained. Water within cooling towers is heated via heat exchange, which is an ideal environment for the heat-loving bacteria to grow. Since heat and evaporated water are rejected out of the top of the tower in the form of a fine cloud-like mist, which can spread nearby, contaminated cooling towers can be a source of Legionnaires’ disease.
Highlight to businesses the importance of a regimented maintenance program and a water treatment programs and ensure they understand the risks associated with poor maintenance.
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