I only run a small office, do I really need to undertake a Risk Assessment?

As Legionella bacteria is a water borne pathogen, and is naturally occurring, any premise where water is present, whether stored or not, has the potential to present a foreseeable risk, that risk has to therefore be formally determined, no matter how big or small.

The lab I utilise, uses the correct method, but are not accredited yet. Is this acceptable?

Some labs use the ISO Method, however are not yet accredited, as it can be a costly and time consuming affair. While we would always recommend the use of accredited labs, for the time being it would be favourable to no sampling, or use of the incorrect method for enumeration. In the event of a suspected case / outbreak of Legionnaires Disease, or if there is any suspicion that a system may be contaminated, we would always recommend the use of an accredited lab, who utilise the ISO method. Once the new SANS 893 1 & 2 guidelines are published. All sampling should be undertaken by laboratories as outlined within the document.

Are South Africans immune to Legionnaires Disease?

No, Legionnaires Disease can affect any human on the planet, there is no genetic immunity. Different people, however, depending on their current state of health, are more susceptible than others.

Why, then, have there never been any outbreaks here?

Quite simply, the level of awareness in the healthcare industry regarding Legionella is either poor, or generally misguided. Patients with respiratory illnesses are not regularly screened for legionella as a matter of course (unlike other countries around the world), and occasionally, when they are, misdiagnosis often occurs due to a lack of understanding of the diagnostic procedures. The true extent of the problem is unknown, because there can be no statistics if no records are kept.

Shouldn’t we be more worried about HIV and / or TB?

The prevalence of HIV and TB is an immense concern in the South African environment. It also greatly impacts on the risks to be considered in this region from a Legionella perspective. Both result in a weakened immune status, lowering the body’s ability to fight against an infection such as Legionella, resulting in an increased likelihood of fatality.