Legionnaire’s disease

Legionnaires’ disease is a rare but serious disease caused by legionella bacteria. It’s a form of pneumonia that can be fatal. Anyone can get the infection although the risk increases with age and some other factors such as:

  • Being over 45 years old
  • Smoking
  • People with a vulnerable immune system
  • People with conditions like chronic respiratory or kidney disease, diabetes, lung and heart disease

The bacteria is commonly found in natural water sources, like rivers and ponds, although people don’t usually catch it from those sources as the conditions often aren’t right for the disease to develop. Illness is normally due to the bacteria growing in purpose-built water systems, like air-conditioning units, cooling towers and spa pools. People can catch the disease by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air, which contain the bacteria.

As legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria, it is often found in water. It must be stressed that water coming into your house, even if it contains legionella, is safe to drink.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to those of flu e.g. high temperature, fever, cough and muscle pains.

What does Radian do to avoid legionella?

Radian employs specialist contractors to carry out our legal obligations to manage our water for communal water systems. We follow the approved code of practice and monitor all of these properties monthly except those deemed to be of low risk, namely our domestic self-contained general needs properties.

What can I do to avoid legionella?

The risk to self-contained homes is very low due to the water in the property being used quickly, but there are a few steps that can be taken by the householder to reduce the risk further…

  • If you have storage tanks in the roof, ensure the lids are fitted correctly.
  • If you have a cylinder in an airing cupboard, make sure the thermostat on the cylinder is set between 55 and 60 degrees. Be aware that water coming out of your taps will be very hot so take care particularly when running baths or showers.
  • Ensure all outlets (taps and shower heads) are kept clear of limescale.
  • All outlets, hot and cold (don’t forget outside taps and showers) should be run for several minutes each week. If you use a tap every day, that tap doesn’t need to be run each week as above.
  • If you’re away for a week or longer turn the hot water back on when you return and leave for two hours before running any hot water, also follow step 4 to flush all outlets.
  • The important thing is to prevent water droplets being released into the air when flushing. Shower heads are the obvious cause of water droplets, so place the shower head into a bucket of water and run for several minutes.

If you have any further queries, please contact Radian Technical Services on 0300 123 1 567.

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