Legionnaires Disease and Water

Some of us still remember the summer of 1976 when an outbreak of a mysterious illness occurred during the U.S. Bi-Centennial Celebration at the Legionnaire’s Convention in Philadelphia.  During the Convention and the days that followed more than 220 attendees came down with the illness and 34 died from it.

It took until early 1977 before the cause was positively identified – a hitherto unknown bacterium – now named Legionella pneumophila.  Since 1976 there have been dozens of cases reported – and many deaths have resulted.

Just before 9/11, a Ford Motor castings plant in Brook Park, Ohio was closed after three employees came down with Legionnaires Disease and two later died.  The water systems and cooling towers were completely decontaminated.

Even the recently-constructed luxury Epic Hotel & Residences in Miami had an outbreak with three “probable” deaths, and possibly the death of a 57 year old British tourist, according to a report just released.  The likely suspect was from a faulty water filtration system according to the investigation.

There have been dozens of outbreaks around the world including a massive outbreak in Spain in 2001.

This bacterium is a water-lover.  The disease outbreaks have typically been associated with contaminated water and cooling towers, showers and drinking water and even soil have been suspects.  The organism is from the genus Bacillus (which incidentally also includes Anthrax).  While some of the cases involved inhaling steam from showers, there have been implications that the micro-organism has been ingested in drinking water.

A water distiller guards against Legionnaires Disease and provides pure “bio-secure” water.  The boiling action of a distiller and the phase change from a liquid (water) to a vapor (steam) and then back to water (distilled water) renders the distilled water free of this scourge.

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