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Pathogenic bacteria present in water

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Legionella

Legionellae, or Legionella pneumophila, are responsible for legionellosis, a potentially fatal respiratory ailment. These pathogenic bacteria, i.e. bacteria which are harmful to health, develop in hot water systems and air conditioning systems. The infection is contracted via inhalation of splashes or steam of contaminated water.

Cases of legionellosis, or Legionnaire’s disease, have been growing steadily for a number of years. In Europe, they have grown by 65% between 2016 and 2018. In the United States, the number of cases has multiplied ninefold since 2000*. The mortality rate is 10%, but can reach 50% in the most vulnerable individuals, particularly in the elderly or immunocompromised individuals. The initial symptoms are akin to those of flu: high fever, coughing, muscle pain and headaches. But the infection develops very quickly in the lungs and transforms into acute pneumopathy. This requires hospitalisation and treatment with antibiotics. The disease can leave serious physical or neurological consequences which are irreversible in some cases.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in the United States, 90% of legionellosis cases could be avoided with a better prevention policy.

 

* Statistics

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Les coliformes

Coliforms (including Escherichia coli or E. coli) are indicators of faecal contamination. They indicate the potential presence of pathogenic bacteria. Coliforms develop naturally in the digestive tract of warm-blooded animals. In the event of flawed hygiene measures, they can be found in certain food products and in drinking water or bathing waters. Contaminated water which is ingested or which comes into contact with the mucous membranes can be the source of food poisoning, acute gastroenteritis, bloody diarrhoea, meningitis, urinary infections, or even septicemia (a generalised infection which is fatal in 27 to 50% of cases).

In young children, this can cause a haemolytic and uremic syndrome (SHU), a serious toxic shock which affects the kidneys and can manifest itself in an acute renal insufficiency.

According to the WHO, 100mL of drinking water fit for consumption must not contain any coliform bacteria**.

** See OMS blog post

Why test your water ?

Each year, cases of bacteriological contamination linked to water increase across the globe. These contaminations are the cause of serious, or even fatal, infections in the most vulnerable populations: young children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals.

It is very difficult to fully eradicate bacteria in water without causing considerable chemical pollution. And the treatments used do not make it possible to avoid recurrences once a water system is infected.
The life cycle of water-borne bacteria is variable and depends on a number of factors, with heat being one of the most significant. Global warming and the increase in the number of heatwaves promote their development and greatly increase the risks of contamination on an epidemic or isolation scale.

Even though certain countries have put in place monitoring measures, in particular regarding legionellae, these are sometimes limited to a single annual test, which is insufficient in the face of the risk involved all year round. The general increase in the number of cases of contamination is clear proof that these regulations are not keeping up nowadays.
Faced with the growing risk, everyone should be able to take action on their own scale to check the safety of their water, an indispensable consumable resource.

Knowing the critical zones of a water system, the times of the year most favourable to the development of bacteria, and the persons most vulnerable to a bacteriological contamination makes it possible to manage all risk factors to health in your household water.

Stop doubting your water. – Test it !

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The installations to be tested

Some installations are more favourable to the development of bacteria than others.

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The periods most at risk

The seasons and the temperature play a major role in the growth of bacteria and the occurrence of epidemics.

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Vulnerable individuals

The same bacterium may have different consequences on health depending on the vulnerability of individuals.

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