What is Legionella bacteria?
Legionella is a small bacteria that can be found in droplets of water, or aerosols, which can be transmitted to humans through breathing it in. Legionella can cause Legionellosis, which is the name for a collection of diseases derived from the Legionella bacteria. This collection of diseases includes a fatal form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease, as well as Pontiac Fever and others.
What are Symptoms of Legionella?
When you are going on Holiday to your holiday home, the last thing you want is to contract a sickness. Legionella bacteria can possibly give you Legionnaires’ disease, which is a fatal form of pneumonia. Flu-like symptoms are common, and include things such as:
- Extreme tiredness
- Muscle and joint pains
If it gets worse, symptoms could include breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, and green phlegm. It is highly recommended that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms to go to your doctor immediately. It is possible you may be in need of antibiotics, oxygen, or in worst cases a ventilator.
Could I find Legionella Bacterias in holiday lets?
Legionella is a bacteria formed in stagnant water, or when water does not flow or move for an extended period of time. Water that is between 20 C and 45 C is ideal for Legionella to grow, and elements such as rusty pipes may also be a cause for growth. When looking for places to stay as a holiday let, consider the following for what may be a higher or lower risk place for Legionella bacteria to be found.
- High Risk – Swimming pools, Jacuzzis, home Spa’s, Complex Water Systems, Vacant or infrequently used homes, old homes
- Mid Risk – Hot and Cold temperature Water Systems, Processed Water Systems
- Low Risk – Remote Areas, properties with no Water Systems, Simple Water System
What this means for a holiday let
Simply said, places with complicated water systems, or places that are crowded and have lots of water have the highest risk of Legionella. These places should be monitored and assessed constantly, as the potential for the Legionella bacteria to spread is enormous.
However, when homes are not used as often, or haven’t been occupied in a long time, water may have been sitting still in their water systems for quite some time, leading for the ideal scenario of Legionella bacteria to spring up. Old homes may also have rusty pipes, another cause for bacteria to grow, all of which could apply to holiday lets.
Places that have simpler water systems are easier to check up on, and places that can control the temperatures should be able to keep an unsupportive environment for bacterial growth. It is recommended that properties with more water usage should be assessed more often than those who have simpler systems or less hydro usage. If you are on your Holiday Let looking for a home to stay in, consider contacting the homeowner to determine the last time they assessed their property(s).
What is a Legionella Commercial Risk Assessment?
A Legionella Commercial Risk Assessment is when professionals come to the chosen property in order to properly check and assess all water sources that are in use and exist on said property. A Legionella Commercial Risk Assessment would include checking any form of water sources on the property, such as pipes and water heaters, for hazards and Legionella bacteria presence. Also, they would assess whom at the property is most at risk to said hazards, as well as checking water temperatures and making sure there is no sign of Legionella bacteria present.
How often should you test for Legionella?
It is highly recommended for homes to conduct a Legionella Commercial Risk Assessment at least once every 2 years, with once every 12 months for a quick checkup, while businesses are recommended to have an assessment annually.
Who is Most At Risk from Legionella?
Since Legionella is a bacteria found in small droplets of water, anyone can breathe it in if they come into contact, possibly giving them Legionnaires’ disease. That being said, older people are more at risk. Legionella bacteria typically affect anyone aged 45 and up, anyone who smokes or drinks heavily, anyone with a heart/lung/respiratory/kidney disease, anyone with diabetes, and anyone with a compromised immune system. These are among the more common similarities between those affected by Legionella. However these are not definitive conditions as anybody can technically contract it from aerosols.
How to Prevent Legionella Bacteria
As previously stated, Legionella can form anywhere where water stays still for prolonged periods of time. This can range anywhere from dead end pipes with water still in them, uncleaned water systems, or even simply unused taps. If you are a homeowner, or simply looking for a holiday home, consider reading Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for a full understanding of the legislations and duties of a landlord to protect its tenants. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 also provides a recommended list of how to minimize biological risks from numerous agents, including Legionella.
- A visual check is a good place to start! Search for cracks, corrosion and rust in your pipes, faucets, and showerheads. Make sure the water tanks have a tight lid to prevent animals or bugs from entering, and check for biofilm or sediment. Also make sure the temperature is kept at the 60 C minimum for hot water, and under 20 C for cold. Regularly check the temperature(s) of your water system(s).
- If a holiday home has been empty for some time, water in the system might have become stagnant, leading to an ideal Legionella bacterial growth environment. Consider some kind of routine to flush your water systems weekly if they are not being used. By flush we mean to run all taps and showers for 2 minutes a week at the minimum, and to flush all of your toilets.
Although not precise indicators of Legionella itself inside your holiday home, it is possible that any of these factors above could lead to biological growth to occur, if it has not already, and possibly infest your holiday home with Legionella bacteria. Although landlords of Holiday homes can get Legionnaires Testing Certifications, the law does not require it. The best and most surefire way of checking would be to conduct a Legionella Commercial Risk Assessment.
Who can carry out a Legionella Risk Assessment (LRA)?
When searching for homes to stay during your Holiday Lets, or if you own a home you are trying to rent out for the holiday, you need to know you, or your tenants, are safe. Like any bacteria, Legionella can quickly spread throughout the water system of any hotel, house or let if left untreated and undetected. Without expert involvement, detecting Legionella on your own would be an extremely difficult, not to mention possibly inaccurate, task. You would also risk exposing yourself to the Legionella bacteria.
Choose an Experienced Company for Your LRA Legionella Tests
At LegionellaRiskandPat, online or phone call bookings for Legionella Risk Assessments are just one easy step away. Simple, honest, and efficient, LegionellaRiskandPat are dedicated to keeping any home, hotel, or business owner safe alongside all of the building’s occupants. For quick, reliable and affordable Legionella Commercial Risk Assessments, PAT tests and more, we are the best choice for you!