Patient safety tool: CDC guide to prevent Legionnaires' disease outbreaks

Better water management could have prevented the majority of the country's major Legionnaires' disease outbreaks in the last 15 years, according to the CDC. Now, the agency has released a toolkit to help organizations improve water system management.

Legionnaires' disease is caused by Legionella, a bacterium that grows best in building water systems that aren't well-kept. People get the pneumonia-like illness by breathing in aerosolized water droplets that contain the bacteria. Most people will recover fully from Legionnaires' disease, but roughly 1 in 10 will die.

The CDC investigated 27 building-associated Legionnaires' disease outbreaks, and found the most common sources of building-associated Legionnaires' disease outbreaks were:

  • Drinkable water, or water used for showering (56 percent)
  • Cooling towers (22 percent)
  • Hot tubs (7 percent)
  • Industrial equipment (4 percent)
  • Decorative fountain/water feature (4 percent)

To help curb these potentially deadly outbreaks, the CDC is now offering a new toolkit, titled "Developing a Water Management Program to Reduce Legionella Growth and Spread in Buildings: A Practical Guide to Implementing Industry Standards."

Access the toolkit for free here.

More articles on Legionnaires' disease:
Death toll for Flint water-linked Legionnaires' outbreak climbs to 12
How many more have to die before regulators take action on Legionnaires’ disease?
NYC Legionnaires' disease outbreak ends after sickening hundreds



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