Health

Why Legionella still requires a careful approach in 2024

In the world of risk management, there are plenty of issues that it’s easy to become somewhat complacent about. After all, it’s natural to start to become less concerned by issues that haven’t been present in your life for quite some time.

Unfortunately, most risks that are no longer quite so prevalent in the modern world have become less common precisely because of the actions taken to limit their occurrence. This applies to the risk posed by Legionella as well – here’s why it still deserves your attention in 2024.

What is Legionella?

First, a quick note on what Legionella actually is. Legionella is a kind of bacteria that’s commonly found in a range of water sources. While it’s relatively harmless in low concentrations, when it’s able to proliferate, if inhaled it can cause a serious form of atypical pneumonia called Legionnaires disease. 

Legionella can enter the air suspended in water vapour, from any number of pressurised water sources. That includes taps, showers, air conditioning units, and swimming pools. 

Ongoing outbreaks

Despite the fact that we now have effective measures for tackling the bacteria, such as through the use of the Legionella risk assessment, over the past few years we’ve seen a steady increase in outbreaks across Europe and North America.

This is likely partly because these measures have been so effective in limiting outbreaks in recent decades. It’s important that businesses don’t continue with this trend of complacency; legionella clearly hasn’t gone anywhere, and is absolutely still a threat that deserves our attention.

Public concern

With high-profile cases in the press recently, such as the Bibby Stockholm scare, public concern is definitely higher than usual. As a result, even a scare of an outbreak that doesn’t result in any actual cases of infection can have a seriously damaging effect in terms of PR.

We needn’t be reminded of the first identified cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in 1976. In addition to the tragic extent of the illness and loss of life, the outbreak was a PR disaster for the hotel, and it shut its doors for the last time not long after. 

Prevention

It would be remiss not to add a few words on prevention. While Legionella still requires a careful approach, it’s now easier than it’s ever been before to mitigate the risk it poses. We have access to reliable testing technologies and techniques, well-thought-out frameworks to implement those technologies, and clear regulations which stipulate what our legal responsibilities are. By working with a water hygiene specialist, and taking their recommendations seriously, there’s no reason why any business operating in the modern world should struggle to prevent Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.

While some risks are no longer present in 2024, it’s safe to say that Legionella is still a present concern. Luckily, it’s also something that we’re well-equipped to fight against. By working together with the right service providers and implementing the appropriate prevention strategies, you can ensure that there are no scares or outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease on your premises for years to come.

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