What is Legionnaires' disease?
Legionnaires' disease (LEE-juh-nares) is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. The bacteria got its name in 1976, when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion suffered from an outbreak of this disease, a type of pneumonia (lung infection). In 2016, Health departments reported about 6,100 Legionnaires' disease in the U.S. However, many infections are not diagnosed or reported, so this number may be higher.
The Legionella bacteria are found naturally in the environment, usually in water. The bacteria grow best in warm water, like the kind found in hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, and large plumbing systems.
People get Legionnaires' disease when they breathe in a mist or vapor (small droplets of water in the air) that has been contaminated with the bacteria. One example might be from breathing in the steam from a whirlpool spa that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected. Other outbreaks have been linked to aerosol sources in the community, or with cruise ships and hotels, with the most likely sources being whirlpool spas, cooling towers, and water used for drinking and bathing.
Individuals who have an underlying illness or weakened immune system are most susceptible to Legionella infections. The elderly, those with chronic lung disease, smokers and those with suppressed or compromised immune systems are most at risk for contracting the disease.
Legionella Bacteria Sampling, Testing, and Reporting
We offer sampling and testing programs to detect Legionella bacteria in potable and non-potable water systems and we provide the results in a variety of formats. Water sampling is performed by Barclay’s Environmental Group and shipped to the testing laboratory in a timely fashion. In order to insure unbiased results, testing is performed by a third party accredited laboratory through the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), CDC Elite Legionella Program administered by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation. Our Legionella testing services utilize the live culture method with buffered charcoal yeast extract (BCYE) agar, the most reliable method of ensuring accurate results. Other Legionella testing options are available upon request.
Barclay’s water hygiene testing services has the ability to test for a variety of other microbial organisms including pseudomonas, sulfate reducing bacteria, molds, fungi, and protozoa.
Our comprehensive testing service program includes interpretation of test results and may also include on-site customized training specific to your facility.