Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. However, you are at higher risk if you have an impaired immune system or you are already suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease.
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The symptoms are often similar to those of flu, i.e. high temperature, fever and chills, cough, muscle pains and headache. Legionnaires’ disease is not known to spread from person to person but the bacteria can be found in purpose-built water systems like domestic hot water systems or whirlpool baths and spread when you run the water.
In people’s homes, the greatest risk for the bacteria to grow is where water is stored between 20–45 °C so raising the temperature of warm water can reduce this risk. It is also important to keep taps and shower heads clean and free from lime scale and to circulate water frequently by running taps and showers, particularly if the property has been empty for more than a couple of days.
Other ways of preventing Legionnaire’s Disease from spreading include keeping pipework well insulated and the water systems covered and free from debris.
As a landlord your letting agent should be able to assist with or arrange a risk assessment of your rental property to identify any potential problems so that these can be dealt with in an efficient manner.
You can read more about this on the Health and Safety Executive website