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Legionella occurs naturally in water sources and is a bacterium that can multiply given the correct conditions. There is not therefore an actual cause of legionella as it exists naturally, although there is a cause for the legionella reproducing and spreading.

If the legionella has enough nutrients and is within a certain temperature range then it can multiply and at this stage it becomes injurious to health. The legionella bacteria is transported into the human body through inhalation of spray or mist from the water source, and at that stage the legionella can cause Legionnaires Disease.

The legionella bacteria can thrive on impurities in artificial water systems such as rust, sludge, algae and limescale. This can cause the legionella to reproduce.

What causes Legionnaires Disease?

Legionnaires Disease is caused by the inhalation of legionella bacteria in the fine mist or spray from a water source such as a shower, tap, or air conditioning unit. The legionella can breed given nutrients and a warm temperature, and this is when it can become dangerous to health.

The causes of Legionnaires Disease are the inhalation into the body of the legionella bacteria, and it can result in serious illness and death. The symptoms can be confused with having flu, and many cases are missed as the patient recovers and assumes it was flu. There are particular groups that are more prone to contracting and suffering from Legionnaires Disease including:

  • The over 50’s
  • Smokers or ex heavy smokers
  • Those with kidney disease, diabetes, HIV or AIDS or an overall weak immune system
  • Those with cancer, especially lung cancer or leukaemia
  • Those with a heart condition or liver disease