Legionella Symptoms and What to Look Out For

Legionella, also known as Legionella pneumophila and Legionnaires disease, is a disease that affects the respiratory system (specifically the lungs) and is the product of bacteria that develops in water systems. Below we will be discussing what are Legionella symptoms and what to look out for.

AMES Group provides UK customers with comprehensive Legionella tests to ensure your commercial property and workplace’s water systems remain safe.

What is Legionella?

Legionella or Legionnaires’ disease is an infection that attacks the lungs and is often likened to different types of pneumonia. 

People can catch Legionnaires’ disease through inhaling or ingesting drops of contaminated water from hot tubs, air conditioning units and other water tanks that regulate water temperature. 

If people catch Legionnaires’ disease, it can become deadly, especially in older adult patients and adults suffering from respiratory issues.

Legionnaires symptoms

Early Legionnaires’ symptoms can be compared to signs of pneumonia and include:

  • High temperature
  • Consistent cough that doesn’t go away
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Headaches and nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion and sometimes disorientation

Legionnaires disease that is left untreated can lead to pneumonia, but this is rare. Regardless, if you have any of the above symptoms, they remain consistent and you have recently ingested contaminated water, you should arrange to see your doctor as soon as you can. 

Where you contract Legionnaires’ disease

Legionella requires certain elements in order to survive and for bacteria to grow and multiply. For Legionella to grow, it requires the following:

  • Suitable habitat for growth – shower heads, hot tub jets, taps and hot water cylinders are prime examples for Legionella growth.
  • A food source – like with any bacteria, Legionella requires food to survive and this comes in the form of bacteria typically sourced from shower and hair care products.
  • Adequate temperature – one of the most important requirements Legeionella demands is the correct water temperature. Legionella thrives in temperatures between 20c to 45c. A Legionella test will ensure that your water tank temperature will not fall into this temperature zone. 

Legionnaires’ disease and its relationship with Pneumonia

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are often associated with pneumonia, but it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

Pneumonia occurs approximately one to two days after being exposed to bacterial pneumonia, which leads to bacterial infection. Other types of pneumonia include:

Aspiration pneumonia – this occurs when you inhale foreign objects, including chemicals, smoke or even certain foods like peanuts. Aspiration pneumonia can also be contracted upon inhaling vomit.

Viral pneumonia – this is caused by a virus, which includes coronavirus (COVID-19). If you do develop symptoms associated with COVID-19, it’s essential you follow government public health guidelines regarding social distancing and isolation upon noticing symptoms.

Fungal pneumonia – a much rarer case of pneumonia which is rarely caught in the UK. It’s more likely to affect adults with weak immune systems.

There is also another type of Legionella called Legionella longbeachae, which is typically found in soil and compost. When someone contracts it, it can result in Pontiac fever – an acute respiratory disease that is nonfatal and does not include pneumonia.

Can children get Legionnaires’ disease?

Although children can contract Legionnaires disease, it is very rare, with usually very mild symptoms or they will display no symptoms at all. People at higher risk of contracting the disease are adults with compromised immune systems and those over 60.

Treatment for Legionnaires’ disease

Legionnaires’ disease can become fatal to adults who have weakened immune systems, are over 60 and/or suffer from respiratory issues. It’s important that if symptoms persist, you should arrange to see your doctor.

Treatment for Legionnaires disease typically includes:

  • Antibiotics
  • A machine to help you breathe 
  • Oxygen via a face mask

Your condition should start to improve as your treatment continues. If you are given a course of antibiotics, you may be asked to take them for approximately 1 – 3 weeks depending on the advice provided by your doctor.

A full recovery is expected through correct treatment, but you can expect to rest for around two weeks before feeling normal again. 

How AMES Group can help prevent Legionella in the workplace 

AMES Group offers comprehensive water sample and water testing services for customers around the UK. compliance with ACOP L8 or the Drinking Water Regulations is essential to ensure the safety and welfare of your staff.

Our Legionella risk assessments

Our water sampling and water quality tests are conducted by our certified staff in a fast and efficient manner.  Our Legionella disease control and prevention tests provide identification and assessment of the source of any Legionella risk. Upon completion, you will also be provided with a written scheme (course or action), to prevent and minimise the risk of Legionella within your property.

Prevention is better than a cure, book your risk assessment today

You can book a risk assessment test with AMES Group today to ensure your compliance with  ACoP L8 or the Drinking Water Regulations and the safety of your workplace and staff. Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease are easily preventable and only require a short risk assessment that will remain valid for two years with AMES Group.

To lower the risk of Legionella outbreak and to protect your workplace and staff, book your risk assessment test today.

Book your assessment now