Why Legionella Laboratory Testing Is Necessary for Michigan-based Businesses
Posted by Anthony Lewis on March 30th, 2021
With increasing legionella contamination in Michigan-based businesses, it has become necessary for all commercial and residential properties in the state to opt for legionella laboratory testing from a reliable microbiological laboratory.
Over the past few years, there have been plenty of media reports to corroborate the fact that the bacteria has been found in many business facilities around the state, which is posing an immense health concern for the residents.
In January this year, WJRT-TV, a television station affiliated to Flint-based media organization ABC12, obtained a 47-page Centers for Disease Control and Prevention letter that stated that McLaren Flint (Mich.) Hospital was a source of Legionella bacteria from 2008 to 2019. A particular strain of the bacteria was detected in the hospital’s water system. The hospital was named as the source of Legionnaires’ disease cases during 2014 and 2015 that infected 90 people, and claimed two lives.
In June 2019, Legionella bacteria was found in the water cooler of Wayne State University’s Old Main building as well as the water heater tanks at Ford Motor’s facility in the state. That year, six people lost their lives to the disease in the state.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 140 Legionnaires’ disease cases in the state between January and July 2019 and warned of high number of cases in the coming years. As per an article by Consumer Reports and Enisa, the presence of the bacteria in drinking water raises huge concerns amid the pandemic. New cases of infections can be dangerous for people who are recovering from COVID-19 or at high-risk of contracting the disease.
Legionella mainly grow in moist places, including cooling towers, air conditioners, spas, dentistry tools, hot and cold water systems. The infection does not spread person to person. The bacteria infects the lungs through inhalation of contaminated airborne droplets. The symptoms are similar to pneumonia and causes high fever, dry cough, chills, body ache and headache. People over 50 years old or who have lung diseases are at higher risk of getting infected. It can be dangerous for people with compromised immune systems from diseases, such as cancer, chronic lung diseases, diabetes, liver or kidney failure as well as those who take immunosuppressant drugs.
The bacteria is found to multiply in warm water above 20°C and below 50°C and is usually found in the water systems of many residential and commercial establishments that lacks a proper Legionella management system. Cases of infections have been found in facilities with low levels of the bacteria, which show that the bacterium doesn’t have a known safe level.
Testing for the bacteria is imperative in commercial establishment in a high-risk zone, where the resident population is susceptible. Also, an isolated case or legionellosis outbreak can indicate contamination in the water system.
In December 2020, some researchers in the CDC used previous calculations of medical costs and new estimates of productivity losses, and estimated that the annual economic burden of Legionnaires’ disease was above 0 million in the US alone.
This is the reason that legionella laboratory testing needs to be conducted to detect the presence of the bacteria and ramp up the water and legionella management programs as mandated by the CDC. All Michigan-based commercial property owners and employers are mandated by state laws to meet certain health and safety prerequisites to minimize the risk of a Legionella outbreak. The CDC has developed a toolkit to help property owners design water management program and identify the areas conducive for the growth and spread of Legionella as well as the measures to reduce that risk.
Anthony Lewis is a professional writer having deep interest in scientific innovations. In addition, he has been imparting training on personality development in various institutes as guest faculty. For over three years, Lewis has been penning informative pieces on Legionella laboratory testing and microbiological laboratory of Biosan Laboratories Inc.