Home Travel Hotels Closed By COVID-19 May Risk Legionnaires’ Disease When Reopened

Hotels Closed By COVID-19 May Risk Legionnaires’ Disease When Reopened

by SharonKurheg

I guess it wasn’t bad enough that hotels and other buildings closed because of a virus that could settle in peoples’ lungs and kill them. When they reopen, there’s a potential for a disease that could settle in peoples’ lungs and kill them.

Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaire’s disease is a pneumonia-like illness that affects the lungs. It occurs when people breathe in water droplets that carry the Legionella bacteria. The bacteria are usually found in freshwater environments, including man-made ones such as showerheads, sink faucets, hot tubs that aren’t drained properly, fountains and water features, hot water tanks and heaters, large plumbing systems and central air conditioners that utilize cooling towers.

When these bodies of water stand still for extended periods of time, it allows the Legionella bacteria, if present, to multiply. Then, if people breathe these droplets in the air (i.e., when they turn the air conditioner on), they run the risk of getting the disease.

As per the CDC, most healthy people exposed to the bacteria don’t develop Legionnaires’ disease. But some people are at increased risk:

  • People 50 years or older
  • Current or former smokers
  • People with chronic lung disease (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema)
  • People with weak immune systems or who take drugs that weaken the immune system (like after a transplant operation or chemotherapy)
  • People with cancer
  • People with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, kidney failure, or liver failure

Sounds like a lot of the same “at-risk” people for coronavirus, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, the death rate for those who get Legionnaires’ disease is worse than that for coronavirus – about 1 in 10 dies of its unusual type of pneumonia.

So the concern is that hotels and other buildings have just been sitting vacant, and if the Legionella bacteria was present, it could be using this time to be multiplying.

The way to prevent that is for staff to enter the building periodically and make sure all of the water supplies are used. Turn on the A/Cs, flush out all the pipes, clean out that hot tub REALLY well, etc.

Hopefully, they’ve been doing that. If not, hopefully they clean everything REALLY well before they open for business.

Feature Photo (cropped): CDC

#stayhealthy #stayathome #washyourhands

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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