In 1976, an outbreak occurred at the American Legion Convention in Philadelphia and resulted in several hundred illnesses and 34 fatalities. The cause of the outbreak was scientifically proven to be from a waterborne pathogenic bacterium subsequently named Legionella. .
The Legionella bacteria are found in all aquatic environments such as groundwater, fresh water, and marine surface water. The bacteria can enter plumbing systems, whirlpool baths, and cooling towers and are transmitted to the air from cooling towers, faucets, and showerheads. Legionellosis (Legionnaire’s Disease) is a result of the inhalation of the aerosolized bacteria and can range from mild flu-like symptoms to a severe form of pneumonia. Men older than 50 years of age who are heavy smokers and drinkers are at the greatest risk. However, tens of thousands of victims are younger than 50 and about one-third of all victims are female.
As many people die in the US from legionellosis as from any workplace accident. Most state guidelines have been adopted for routine monitoring for Legionella at hospitals and nursing home facilities. Studies indicate that most infections occur from potable water sources.
EES has had extensive experience assessing and sampling for Legionella in facilities and supporting cases with our expert witness capabilities. EES also has the ability to perform facility risk assessments and identify possible sources of contamination.