Calpe, Spain -- The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease was found in water samples at the four star Diamante Beach resort in Calpe, Spain this month after three Britons died of the form of pneumonia according to the regional health department.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia. It is usually caused by breathing in the mist from hot tubs, showers or air conditioning units, cooling towers contaminated by legionella. Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches and a high fever. It usually develops 2 to 14 days after exposure.
Dr. Rajiv Sahay, Laboratory Director, Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) stated “generally speaking, Legionella bacteria can multiply in indoor water systems, such as hot tubs, air conditioners, fountains, mist sprayers in any resort and facility if not effectively treated and maintained. The bacteria can cause significant health implications to those affected.”
The three unnamed Britons, aged between 73 and 78, were among more than 20 people to have contracted the disease at the Diamante Beach hotel.
The deaths were confirmed over the last 24 hours, almost three weeks after Saga holidays was first informed of the outbreak at the four-star spa and convention centre.
Dr. Sahay suggests that “building owners and facility managers should utilize environmental laboratories using both an American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) accredited lab and CDC-ELITE (Environmental Legionella Isolation Techniques Evaluation) certified lab for Legionella testing. These labs will provide the confidence your treatment methods are capably performed saving you time and money.”
“Monitoring and measuring for Legionella is the key to prevention. Testing your water system is the only way to confirm the presence or lack thereof of Legionella. Studies show there are no substitutes for testing. If you don't test, you don't know. Culturing water is the best way to identify Legionella to assess risk and to verify the efficacy of disinfection” stated Dr. Sahay.
The disease is spread through inhalation of the bacteria, and not person-to-person contact, according to the website. Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include chills, confusion and gastrointestinal indications, according to the Mayo Clinic website. According to CDC most cases of the illness can be treated with antibiotics. The bacteria usually attack those that are immune-compromised.