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Why is Legionella compliance so important?

Our very existence as a company is because of our passion to encourage good water hygiene and Legionella compliance in order to keep people safe. We have given an overview of what Legionnaires' disease is and how it affects people.

Legionellosis: Diseases caused by Legionella

What is Legionella bacteria?

Legionella is a rod shaped bacteria which can be found in natural water such as rivers, lakes, streams and reservoirs. This bacteria is also found in man-made water systems which is inclusive of hot and cold water systems, spa baths, jacuzzis, cooling towers and so on. The count of bacteria is considered low in natural water which is not likely to cause harm. However the sometimes favourable environments man-made systems create, Legionella bacteria increases in risk and can lead to a Legionellosis outbreak.

Legionellosis is the term for diseases caused by Legionella bacteria. There are three illnesses linked to the bacteria. All diseases are contracted by inhaling aerosols and cannot be passed from person to person.

Legionnaires Disease History

Legionnaires disease is the most well known disease caused by Legionella bacteria, due to the severe risk. At a convention held for American Legions in Philadelphia America in 1976, an outbreak of illness affected over 200 people and sadly caused the death of 34 people. Those affected suffered from a form of pneumonia that was later aptly named Legionnaires Disease. Outbreaks continue across the world to this day. The last outbreak within the United Kingdom that caused death was 2012 in Stoke-on-Trent.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Legionnaires disease are described as ‘flu-like’. These are as follows:

  • High temperature

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Muscle aches

  • Headaches

Who is at risk?

Although Legionella bacteria can affect anyone, it is an increased risk to become ill or fatal for people with weakened immune systems and underlying health issues. The people at an increased risk are as follows:

  • The age of 45 +

  • Smokers and/or heavy drinkers

  • Those with serious conditions, which include; lung disease; diabetes; kidney disease; cancer

What is the treatment for Legionnaires disease?

The treatment for Legionnaires disease is antibiotics. This may include hospitalisation.

Pontiac Fever & Lochgoilhead Fever History

The lesser known diseases caused by Legionella bacteria are Pontiac Fever and Lochgoilhead Fever, which have no reported fatalities to date. In 1968 Pontiac Michigan, a county health department facility, suffered an epidemic outbreak which affected over 140 people. It wasn't until the Legionnaires outbreak in 1976 that the cause for what became known as Pontiac fever was discovered. In 1988, a hotel and leisure complex in Lochgoilhead Scotland suffered a Pontiac-fever-like illness which affected over 180 people. The cause was later determined as L. micdadei - a species of Legionella bacteria. This illness became known as Lochgoilhead Fever.

What are the symptoms?

Similar to Legionnaires disease, the symptoms are also described as ‘flu-like’. People would not often be diagnosed unless there was a reported outbreak.. The symptoms are as follows:

  • High temperature

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Muscle aches

  • Headaches

Who is at risk and what is the treatment?

Anyone can contract Pontiac Fever and Lochgoilhead Fever, however it is non-fatal and is likely to go away on its own within 3-5 days.


Legionellosis is preventable by means of managing the man-made water systems to ensure the environment does not encourage bacteria growth and biofilms, and reducing the risk of producing aerosols. The first step is to have a Legionella Risk Assessment in place, carried out by a ‘competent person’, to understand your water system, the potential risks and the best management plan.

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