The source of Legionella bacteria and where individuals contract Legionnaires’ disease can often be unexpected. In a study from researchers out of the University of Padua, it was found that two men contracted Legionnaires’ disease after using two separate car washes in Italy. And while the location may seem somewhat surprising, according to microbiologist Dr Tom Makin, a senior consultant at Legionella control in the UK, perhaps it shouldn’t be. Indeed Dr. Makin remarks that, “(C)ar washes are capable of generating the right sized aerosols that can be inhaled into the lungs where the Legionella bacteria cause infection, such as pneumonia.’
The study’s authors, in the report, write that, “(A)ny water source producing aerosols should be considered at risk for transmission of legionella bacteria, including car wash installations used by a large number of customers and where the is poor maintenance.” In regards to the two men who became ill with Legionnaires’ disease, the authors write that it “is unclear how the patients are recovering. Both of their cars have since been disinfected.” These findings were published in the journal Annals of Hygiene.
Now this report isn’t intended to generate fear and suspicion of all car washes everywhere so much as to try and raise awareness, particularly for individuals who run facilities where water is regularly sprayed and can be inhaled by consumers. Indeed many Legionnaires’ disease cases arise simply because individuals accidentally inhale tiny microscopic droplets of water which contain Legionella bacteria. The source can often be systems as simple as a shower or any other system where water is dispersed through a building’s ventilation system or remains stagnant like in a swimming pool.
As such, owners and operators should ensure the safest atmosphere for clients and residents as possible by being aware of any locations in their facility which could serve as a hot spot for generating Legionella bacteria and in addition, any potential uses of the water which might generate aerosols that can be inhaled by individuals.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.