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Proper Water Maintenance Can Prevent Legionnaires' Disease Outbreaks


Laura Cooley, MD, MPH medical epidemiologist, Respiratory Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial Disease, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discusses the role water maintenance plays in the prevention of the spread of Legionnaires’ disease.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
Legionella grows in building water-systems that aren’t well-maintained, building water-systems where disinfectant levels are low, where temperatures are warm and great for the growth of Legionella. An analysis of 27 [land-based] outbreaks [from] 2000 to 2014 that the CDC participated in, found that nine out of ten outbreaks could have been prevented with better water-management.
In 2014 the industrial society called ASHRAE came out with consensus guidelines, it’s actually a standard, that is directed at primary prevention of Legionella growth and transmission in building water-systems. It calls for building-owners and managers to assess the water systems in their building, figure out where there are vulnerabilities, and come up with plans to monitor those and to act if any abnormalities come up, [in order] to prevent any Legionella growth. This is really the first step forward to preventing Legionnaire’s disease and to bending the curve on [the] increased number of cases in the United States.”
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