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Legionnaires' Disease

Legionnaires’ Disease? Stuff in your house may be putting you at risk.

Statistics indicate that one in ten people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will die. A 400% increase of Legionnaire’s disease was reported between 2000 and 2014. About 5,000 cases of the disease are now reported each year in the United States.

People can get infected when they inhale Legionella contaminated water vapor or mist in air they breathe. Legionnaires' disease is a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. Symptoms include: fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite, loss of coordination, and occasionally diarrhea and vomiting.

Stuff in your house can easily foster the legionella bacterium. Although outbreaks are more commonly associated with convention centers, hotels, resorts, long-term care facilities, cruise ships, etc. The most likely sources of contamination in your house are humidifiers, vaporizers, hot tubs, fountains, and furnace, air-conditioning, refrigerator, de-humidifier condensate systems, and similar items that produce moisture. Risks are greatly increased when these systems are improperly maintained. Likely the greatest culprits in your house are furnace mounted humidifiers.

What can you do to reduce the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease?

Get rid of furnace mounted humidifiers, they are like a ‘petri’ dish in your HVAC duct system and your ducted house air picks up whatever may be growing in it. There is no practical way to properly maintain these humidifiers. Some newer furnace mounted humidifiers are marketed to be “environmentally safe”, if you opt for one of these be sure to do everything necessary to reduce the risk of contamination. Regardless, we do not recommend any furnace mounted humidifiers. If you must add humidity to your home then use a free-standing humidifier, add the recommended treatment chemicals every time you add water, maintain it cautiously & properly as often as necessary in accord with all recommended standards.

The good news? YOU can significantly reduce your risks; 90% of the cases of Legionnaires' disease are preventable by more effective water and moisture management. Follow up, educate yourself, become aware & familiar with the items in your house that may foster Legionella. Make necessary corrections, clean, and maintain all of the potential sources of contamination in your home. Even small changes and improvements can significantly decrease your risk of Legionnaire’s disease.

Follow-up. Go to the following web sites for more information regarding Legionnaires' disease.

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