The news about Legionnaires' Disease across the US are spreading quickly. With the warmer season coming now and people heading to public swimming pools, using showers and hot tubs, Legionella becomes a big issue.
Recent Cases of Legionnaires' Disease across the USA
Only recently Legionnaires was blamed for the illness of 4 L.A. fitness gym members in Florida. Two guests of the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas contracted Legionnaires' Disease while they were staying at the resort in the months of March and April. New York police officer is currently being hospitalized after contracting disease at the Manhattan NYPD stationhouse, where 19 of 20 samples tested positive for Legionella. Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about risks associated with home water births, which have been linked to two 2016 cases of the disease.
On Wednesday, Nick Lyon was charged of involuntary manslaughter for failing to alert the public to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area, which has been linked to poor water quality in 2014 and 2015. Twelve people died from the outbreak in 2014 and 2015.
Increase in reported cases of Legionnaires' Disease
The number of cases reported to CDC has been on the rise since 2000. According to CDC This is a mixture of a true increase in the frequency of disease due to a number of reasons (e.g., older U.S. population, more at-risk individuals, aging plumbing infrastructure) and increased testing for Legionnaires' Disease. There are around 6,000 cases of the disease reported each year.
The death rate from Legionnaires' Disease may be as high as 40–80% in untreated patients and can be reduced to 5–30% through appropriate case management and depending on the severity of the clinical signs and symptoms. Overall the death rate is usually within the range of 5–10%.
Some patients will get better with just a few days of intravenous antibiotics, while others may need to spend 10 days to two weeks in the intensive care unit.
Symptoms can show up two days to two weeks after someone is exposed, and can include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, confusion, loss of appetite, and diarrhoea.
How to test water for Legionella
Testing water for Legionella may be confusing to many. Especially if you do not have experience or knowledge, it is easy get overwhelmed by all the information available online. Let’s make it simple:
You can test for Legionella in water by sending the water samples to the lab. The downside of this method is that you need to wait up to 14 days for result. In this time, you, your employees, customers, family are all being exposed to the risks.
Another method available on the market is testing DNA of Legionella. This method is called qPCR. You still need to send samples of water to the lab, but you will receive results faster, usually in a day. The method is reliable, but also very sensitive. Sensitive to the level that you are not actually sure if Legionella present in your water system creates any health risks. It is also quite complicated and may be expensive.
Rapid, On-site Testing
The third method is rapid, on-site Legionella testing. You do not need any training or experience to use this method. No sending samples to the lab. You do the test yourself, on-site and get results in 25 minutes. The test detects Legionella antigen, at the ‘call to action’ levels. In other words, if you get a positive result you know you need to take some action. The rapid testing is supported by smartphone app reader and the online portal. These tools allow you to read the test better than a human eye, manage and schedule testing at different times or locations. In the portal, you can also produce hard copy of the certificate that the test has been conducted.
The rapid testing offers simple, Do-It-Yourself solution to Legionella testing. Why wait for the results, or even worse ignore the problem all together, if such a simple method is available to you today.