Six employees of an electrical company came down with flu-like symptoms after working in a client facility by the pier. The building’s sprinkler system had accidentally dis- charged while the employees were working inside.
Three went to their primary care provider where they were
diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac fever. However,
none of the employees were diagnosed with pneumonia. All six
employees fully recovered after three to five days.
The landlord of the building was notified and Legionella
sampling was performed. The results showed Legionella Pneumophila Serogroup 1 (LP1) in a majority of potable water taps
tested. This is the same strain that may cause Legionella Disease
(LD), a potentially fatal pneumonia. The information was shared
with the employer, who chose not to accept any future work involving this worksite due to the client’s lack of proper remediation of the worksite and the risk of exposing employees to LD
with potentially fatal consequences.
Legionella can pose a fatal health risk when it gets into a
building water system. The exposure pathway is by inhalation of
aerosolized Legionella contaminated water droplets. Exposure
can affect occupants, employees, facilities maintenance personnel, visitors and specialty vendors working around sources,
which can aerosolize the contaminated water, including faucet
aerators and touchless electronic eye faucets. Various guidances
By Hung Cheung, M.D.