Legionella are bacteria which are commonly found in water systems. They thrive in temperatures between 20 degrees and 45 degrees Celsius. They are killed off by temperatures above 60 degrees Celsius.
Legionella infection is caused when people inhale the bacteria. This can cause a serious pneumonia-like illness which is of particular risk to the elderly, smokers and anyone with a long-term illness.
The good news is that the chances of legionella causing illness in your home are extremely low. The biggest risk is when your home has been empty for a week or more. When you return, here a few simple steps you can take to avoid any risk:
- Run the taps and flush any shower heads with hot water for at least a minute. To flush the shower head, remove it from its holder before switching on the shower and holding it over the drain without inhaling any of the sprayed water
- Clean and de-scale your shower heads and hoses with a mild disinfectant every three to six months
- Drain your water system if your house is going to be unoccupied for more than two weeks and refill on your return
- Flush all toilets twice to circulate fresh water through the system.