The recent hearing regarding the outbreak of Legionnaires disease in Quincy, Illinois serves to further highlight the importance of not only a rapid response, but more importantly, a strong prevention strategy. Indeed according to the Center for Disease Control, 9 out of 10 Legionnaires’ disease cases could have been prevented, a staggering figure which emphasizes the importance of prevention. With this in mind, this post serves to provide a general overview of methods institutions can take in order to reduce the risk of Legionnaires disease.
First and foremost, reviewing the effectiveness of your water management plan regularly can make a significant difference. According to the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188-2015, large buildings in the United States now have an industry standard in place to have a water management which addresses Legionella. As such, a key component of such a water management plan is to schedule and predict the maintenance, repairs, and perhaps service interruptions which will be required. Yet in order to ensure such a plan is working accordingly, regular testing for Legionella pneumophila for such testing is “critical to determining whether Legionnaires’ disease bacteria are present and at what levels”, according to the OSHA guidelines for Legionnaires’ disease.
Yet not all tests are equal. To start, it is important that much of the testing includes and is focused on Legionella pneumophila. According to the CDC, this single strain is responsible for the vast majority of all legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, a fact which has made the Veterans Administration healthcare facilities require testing for Legionella pneumophila every quarter. Finally, while rapid tests, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, can provide quicker results, culture tests are a more reliable source of quantification of Legionella and should be used for water management plans.
Clearly there are numerous methods institutions can take in order to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease however as a start, this post would simply like to highlight that developing a regular water management plan which includes not only accurate testing but appropriate testing is a great first step.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.