This 1978 electron microscope image made available by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows legionella pneumophila bacteria. Image: Francis Chandler/CDC via AP
This 1978 electron microscope image made available by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows legionella pneumophila bacteria. Image: Francis Chandler/CDC via AP

Closure of businesses during lockdown 'poses risk of legionella contaminating water systems'

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Jun 23, 2020

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Cape Town – The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has urged people to be wary of legionella in water that might have remained stagnant due to the closure of various businesses during the coronavirus lockdown. 

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), legionella is a bacteria which multiplies in a water system and can cause a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called legionnaires' disease. This disease does not spread from person to person but rather spreads through mist, such as air conditioning units in large buildings. 

In a statement released on Tuesday, the NICD asked that precautions be taken during the Covid-19 period as businesses such as restaurants and hotels remain closed, as this poses the risk of legionella in the water systems if not managed properly. 

In order to properly manage this, the NICD said design, maintenance and temperature of potable water is important and in order to do this, the following has to be done: 

* Maintain a routine water system management and legionella control systems.

* Water should be delivered to taps at a temperature above 50˚C and hot water maintained above 60˚C.

* Cold water needs to be maintained below 20˚C.

* Biocide target levels should be maintained throughout the water system if used.

* Controlled flushing of all hot and cold water outlets should be done at premises where a shutdown was implemented, to prevent water stagnation.

* Proper personal protective equipment should be used when flushing, cleaning or using any aerosol-generating items. 

* A thorough flush of water systems should be conducted as well as a proper disinfection on a building should the building have been closed for more than a month without maintenance before reopening. 

* Testing of water systems such as wet cooling systems should be done prior to use. 

African News Agency (ANA)


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