05 Jul 2016

The problem with legionnaires’ disease is that it is still a problem. After all this time – 40 years, to be precise. Or, to be even more precise, since 18th January 1977 when the illness and the bacteria linked to it were given names – it still has us in its grubby little clutches.

Which is a shame.

Because it doesn’t need to.


We can combat legionnaires’ disease. We might not be able to eradicate it completely (yet), but we have a load of preventative measures that we know reduces the problem down to miniscule, manageable levels. The thing is, not everyone who should know about this does know about it. And not everyone who knows about it and has responsibility for it does anything.

And what’s where it goes wrong.

If every responsible person followed the guidelines, had a risk assessment carried out, had regular water sampling done, made sure their water tanks were clean and that their temperatures were under 20oC for the colds and over 50oC for the hots (over 60oC in their calorifiers or water heaters), there wouldn’t be scary stories in the news about how the numbers of legionnaires’ disease cases were on the rise.

Cases of legionnaires’ disease have more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2014. Even Gregory House M.D. would spot the symptoms straight away without suggesting the patient has lupus first.

Of course, the fact that doctors know more about legionnaires’ disease now could simply mean that the increase is due to the illness being diagnosed more quickly and correctly. The increase could also be down to an ageing population (legionella bacteria affects the elderly, the very young, and those with a compromised immune system more severely than healthy people), or it could be to do with ageing buildings and their older water systems. The older a water system is, the more likely it is that debris and contaminants will be washed into it from pipes and ancient cold water storage tanks. This means that there is more for the legionella bacteria to feed on, and that means that it multiplies.


Whatever the reason for the increase, there is never an excuse for legionella bacteria to be found in the water system of a building that you are responsible for. Get in touch with Legionella First to see how we can help you ensure that you are fully compliant with all guidelines and legislation.

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