Hospitals are full to the brim with people sick from Covid-19. This highly contagious respiratory infection is shutting down the world. Why is that good for legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease? Well, large building water systems are not meant to sit stagnant. Municipal disinfection runs low and biofilms build up in the pipes. Going back to stores or work might be more dangerous than you think, even if you wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Dangerous waterborne bacteria can come out of any faucet, sink, shower, ice machine, pool, decorative fountain, or hose.
Because Covid is so infectious, hospitals have been forced to limit procedures to those that are medically necessary. Without elective surgeries going on, a large chunk of revenue for hospitals has dried up. And with so many people requiring extra care and PPE, nurses and doctors are having to work harder for each patient they see. Money and time are both being limited, pushing waterborne bacteria monitoring and prevention to the back of everyone’s minds.
Covid is real, dangerous, and everyone is focusing on it. Does that mean we can forget about waterborne pathogens like legionella or pseudomonas? The answer is no. Legionella bacteria is all around us, and one of the main risk increasers for getting severely sick from legionella is having a weakened immune response from medications or other illnesses. If someone with Covid-19 encounters legionella bacteria, the chance they will become even more sick with legionnaires disease is high. Covid already attacks the lungs and respiratory tract, legionella attacks the same areas of the body.
These are just the present concerns for Covid and legionella. We have not been able to study the long-term effects of Covid on the lungs, but preliminary research is showing lasting damage. Another big risk factor for contracting legionnaires disease from legionella bacteria is having chronic lung disease or damage. Will legionnaires disease be a much more common disease in the future because of the current Covid infections? We don’t know, unfortunately. But, for now, protecting from legionella and other waterborne pathogens should be made a priority.
If you would like more information on legionnaires disease and legionella, check out these websites:
Legionnaires Disease (CDC)
CDC Fact Sheet (CDC)
Causes and Transmission (CDC)
Legionnaires Disease (at MayoClinic)