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In 24 hours the number of people in this country believed to be infected with Legionnaires Disease, caught by inhaling water particles, has soared to close to 120.
Legionellosis is a common name for one of the several illnesses caused by Legionnaires' disease bacteria (LDB). Legionnaires' disease is an infection of the lungs that is a form of pneumonia. A person can develop Legionnaires' disease by inhaling water mist contaminated with LDB. LDB are widely present at low levels in the environment: in lakes, streams, and ponds. At low levels of contamination, the chance of getting Legionnaires' disease from a water source is very slight. The problem arises when high concentrations of the organism grow in water systems. Water heaters, cooling towers, and warm, stagnant water can provide ideal conditions for the growth of the organism.
Warm, stagnant water provides ideal conditions for growth. At temperatures between 20°C-50°C (68°-122°F) the organism can multiply. Temperatures of 32°C-40°C (90°-105°F) are ideal for growth. Rust (iron), scale, and the presence of other microorganisms can also promote the growth of LDB.
Water mist from cooling towers or evaporative condensers, evaporative coolers (swamp coolers), humidifiers, misters, showers, faucets, and whirlpool baths can be contaminated with LDB and if inhaled or aspirated into the lungs can cause the disease.