What you don’t know can hurt you, especially when it comes to harmful water microbes in your home’s water. Legionella pneumophila is a harmful water bacterium associated with Legionnaires’ disease, an acute, often deadly form of pneumonia that can leave permanent symptoms. Thousands of people are affected each year, and many of these victims are from our most vulnerable populations: the elderly and the immunocompromised. The ruthless nature of Legionella is why one in ten people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will die.

As a commercial laboratory we became certified to test for Legionella bacteria in water samples, thinking hospitals and nursing homes would be our biggest clientele. What we found instead is that individual homeowners have a real need for protection from Legionnaires’ disease. Sadly, people are getting sick right here in our community, right in our own backyard, from the water in their homes.

Most residents do not realize how close to home this danger is lurking. After testing 169 houses locally, we found 45 of them were contaminated with Legionella pneumophila.  We found this deadly bacterium multiple times in sink spray faucets, spas/hot tubs, and outdoor/ indoor showers (45 positive homes).

Luckily, this disease can be prevented by following a few simple steps.

  • Get home water sources tested regularly
  • Routinely run water through all the outlets in your home
  • Use vinegar bags on faucets quarterly
  • Shock wells annually

If an issue is identified through testing, a hyper shock of chlorine to the entire home water system performed by a certified plumber or water treatment operator can often resolve the issue.

Regretfully, even though this is one of the deadliest water carried diseases, Legionnaires’ disease is not very regulated, and routine testing is not been required in most places, leaving a gap in protection.  This gap leaves it to homeowners or their loved ones to try to diagnosis and fix issues caused by Legionella pneumophila. As a laboratory, we want to provide more education and help our community find solutions. Our people are hurting. Please talk to us, your local public health laboratory, or your local provider about testing for Legionella pneumophila in your home.

Additional Resources:

Florida Department of Health (850) 245-4330 or BuiltEnvironment@flhealth.gov

Tool for finding a Local Water Treatment company: https://www.awt.org/find_water_treatment_professional.cfm

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