If your commercial building is the source of a Legionella outbreak, it is critical that you act quickly and decisively to control the spread before it can impact the health and safety of people in the area.
Having an established relationship with a water treatment professional before an outbreak occurs should help you to respond quickly and effectively before anyone falls ill; in addition to treating Legionella, public health officials may require additional steps if your commercial building experiences a Legionella outbreak.
What Constitutes a Legionella Outbreak?
A Legionella outbreak (sometimes referred to as a “cluster”) is defined by at least two instances of Legionnaires’ disease that arose after exposure to the same source. In this instance, if two or more people fell ill after being present at your commercial building at about the same time, public health officials will likely evaluate your situation to determine if you need to conduct a full investigation. If it is discovered that your commercial building is the source of the Legionella, you will likely need to comply with a full investigation.
Conduct a Full Investigation
A full investigation is made up of many moving parts, the first of which is to retrospectively review health department surveillance cases to see if any previously unassociated incidents can be traced back to your facility. This will help to establish a history or trend of important information that can help you determine where and when the problem first arose.
You may also need to conduct sampling and environmental assessments to learn more about how your facility is currently responding and what consequences it is having on the area. The following subpoints about remediation and subtype isolation will typically occur under the umbrella of the full investigation.
Make Sure You’ve been Implementing Control Measures
As soon as possible after you become aware that Legionella may be causing an outbreak in your facility, you should make sure you have been control measures to stop the bacteria from continuing to populate and spread to humans to cause illness. This may involve restricting access to potable water that may be contaminated, such as showers.
It may also require closing the building entirely depending on the nature of the business that you do. You should also alert the appropriate audiences of the issue and clarify what is happening so that people remain informed.
Initiate Remediation Protocols (Corrective Action)
Inorder to control the initial Legionella spread, immediate remediation or corrective action should begin. This is the step of the process in which existing Legionella is prevented and killed from existing in the system. Depending upon what you discovered in the investigation and control phases, you may already know where the Legionella source is.
Consider scrubbing surfaces affected, draining or flushing plumbing outlets and hyperchlorinating the water for the required time and concentration to shock and kill the Legionella. Depending on your commercial building and the source of the Legionella issue, superheating to at least 132 degrees Fahrenheit and flushing the system for a minimum of 20 minutes may be an option for removing Legionella from your water.
Isolate Legionella Subtypes When Possible
It is important that you work with professional Legionella remediation experts who have connections to certified and trustworthy labs so that your Legionella outbreak can be fully examined and understood. You may elect to take water samples and send them to a lab so that you can have a better understanding of exactly which subtype or serogroup of bacteria has caused your problem.
This can help to ensure that you undergo the proper treatment processes and can make more strategic decisions in the future about how to prevent Legionella from arising again. However, lab analysis takes time, which is why you should have a plan in place for remediation of Legionella that you can initiate while you wait for the lab results. Experienced Legionella prevention professionals use these type of trustworthy labs and can likely refer you to them to isolate the type of Legionella in your water.
Work With The Expert Water Treatment Professionals Before Issues Arise
Whether you have experienced a Legionella outbreak and you are not sure what to do or you are preparing a strategy to have on hand should Legionella get out of control in your water system, it is important to establish a relationship with a water treatment professional as soon as possible. Having someone reliable on hand can dramatically increase the speed at which you respond to Legionella outbreaks and provide more targeted remediation.
The experts at Legionella Compliance Solutions can assist you in clearing your system of Legionella by developing a customized strategy and maintain the proper partners to keep your building in compliance. Reach out to schedule an appointment to discuss your options and keep Legionella under control at your facility.