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Posted on March 2, 2020

First diagnosed in 1975, Legionnaires Disease, a serious type of pneumonia, has been a growing health concern in the United States.  Despite growing awareness, there has continued to be a steady increase of cases.  While treatable with antibiotics, about 1 out of 10 people die from the infection.  If you own or manage a business property, it is vital to educate yourself on what it is, how to test for it, and the best ways to control it.  Wm. T. Spaeder’s Water Treatment Department is equipped to help you take steps to ensure your water systems are properly maintained and Legionella free.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is the bacterium that causes Legionnaires Disease. In milder cases, it can cause Pontiac Fever that has more flu-like symptoms.

Where does it come from?

Legionella occurs naturally in freshwater environments such as lakes and streams but can pose a serious health concern when it spreads into human-made water systems like those in hospitals, hotels, long-term care facilities or even gyms. Such systems include but are not limited to:

  • Showerheads and sink faucets
  • Cooling towers
  • Hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
  • Decorative fountains and water features
  • Hot water tanks and heaters
  • Water Filters
  • Large plumbing systems

How is it contracted?

A person can become sick if they inhale contaminated water from building water systems that are not adequately maintained. This happens by either breathing in small water droplets (mist) containing the bacteria or through aspiration, or when water accidently enters the lungs while drinking. For the most part, the disease does not spread from person to person. To prevent infection, keeping Legionella out of your building’s water systems is vital.

Who is at risk?

Most healthy people will not contract Legionnaires Disease. People most at risk of an infection include those with weakened immune systems, HIV/AIDS, cancer or diabetes, are over the age of 65, who have recently undergone an organ transplant or have weak lungs from smoking or chronic emphysema.

How can Spaeder help?

The best way to prevent Legionella growth is by maintaining healthy water systems. The water treatment professionals at Wm. T. Spaeder test your current water systems for contamination and institute a Legionella Prevention Plan to avoid risks of future contamination. For more information, please contact our Tim Kaspick in our Water Treatment Department –, (814) 547-9242.


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