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After a corona break: Legionella risk in water systems
The Robert Koch Institute warns of an increased risk of legionella in hotels, sports facilities, swimming pools, parts of old people's homes or hospitals that were locked due to the corona virus and are now reopening. In the drinking water systems concerned, improper maintenance could lead to increased Legionella growth due to the standstill.
Many people have been looking forward to it: after the Corona forced break, the hotels and sports facilities open again. However, special caution is now required when using the sanitary facilities.
Good conditions for expansion through forced breaks
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) warns in the "Epidemiological Bulletin 24/2020" after a week-long closure of hotels, sports facilities and swimming pools of a possible Legionella risk. If the maintenance is improper or missing, the bacteria in the drinking water system may have increased growth after the corona break, writes the RKI.
What are the risks of Legionella?
Legionella can cause illness in humans - from flu-like symptoms to severe pneumonia. The pathogens are often transmitted through atomized water, for example in showers, whirlpools, humidifiers or via taps. RKI advises that operators should therefore ensure that they operate properly before reopening their drinking water systems.
Doctors should also make sure that there is currently a legionella infection in the case of respiratory problems. There are test options for this. Possible symptoms that indicate Legionella infection include:
Where do legionella spread?
Legionella has ideal growth conditions at temperatures between 25 and 45 degrees Celsius. At water temperatures above 55 degrees, the growth of the germs is inhibited according to RKI information. At more than 60 degrees, the germs die.
Risk groups should be particularly careful
People with a weakened immune system and certain underlying diseases such as diabetes, heart and lung problems are particularly susceptible to Legionella. Smokers and the elderly are also at risk. Men fall ill two to three times as often as women. The disease is fatal in about five to ten percent of those affected. (vb; source: dpa)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- RKI guide: Legionnaires' disease (as of September 5, 2019), rki.de
- RKI: Epidemiological Bulletin 24/2020 (published: June 11th, 2020), rki.de