Shuttered office buildings may pose Legionnaires' risk, experts warn

Stagnant water systems in commercial buildings temporarily closed during the pandemic may put employees at risk of waterborne-infections like Legionnaires' disease, according to The New York Times.

Researchers and public health officials have warned about potential water quality concerns in unoccupied office buildings, hotels and gyms. Usually, facility managers add small amounts of disinfectant to a building's water system to help kill bacteria. Since many buildings have been closed since mid-March, there is a chance bacteria has built up in some buildings' plumbing systems. If not properly addressed, this buildup could pose health concerns when the facilities reopen. 

The biggest threat is the presence of Legionella bacteria, which causes a respiratory condition known as Legionnaires' disease. About 1 in 10 cases are fatal, according to the CDC.

People with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to Legionnaires', which may be a concern for COVID-19 patients and survivors returning to work.

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