Legionnaires' Disease on the Rise in the U.S.

MCLEAN, VA. With the number of Legionnaires disease cases increasing at alarming rates throughout various regions of the United States, local communities and industries are turning to government authorities and water treatment experts for help. Armed with information and the expertise to identify and minimize the disease, the Association of Water Technologies in mid-July released its newest paper

MCLEAN, VA. — With the number of Legionnaires’ disease cases increasing at alarming rates throughout various regions of the United States, local communities and industries are turning to government authorities and water treatment experts for help. Armed with information and the expertise to identify and minimize the disease, the Association of Water Technologies in mid-July released its newest paper on Legionella and minimizing the risk of legionellosis from water systems.

The paper is available as a free download from AWT’s Web site www.awt.org/Legionella03.pdf and will be presented in September at the 2003 AWT Water Technologies Convention and Expo in Phoenix.

The number of cases of legionellosis reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year totaled 624 as of the first week of July, compared to 436 for the corresponding period last year — a 43% increase. In some regions of the country, the numbers are double or triple those reported at this time last year.

To help shed some light on the disease and its causes, the AWT’s paper, “Legionella 2003: An Update and Statement by AWT,” provides an overview of Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease including information such as: background and general facts; sources of the disease (which can include hot water tanks and potable water distribution systems, cooling towers and evaporative condensers, and whirlpool spas and showers); how it is transmitted (inhalation or aspiration of contaminated water); and how it can be tested and treated for in water systems.

“Legionella continues to be a topic of concern that the general public should be aware of, as well as those who work in the water treatment and health-care industries,” said William E. Pearson II, president of AWT and primary author of the paper. “With the release of this new and updated document on Legionella, AWT aims to educate and advance the current knowledge we have to help prevent further outbreaks of this disease.”

AWT represents nearly 600 regional companies that specialize in industrial and commercial water treatment for heating and cooling systems. These companies may also specialize in wastewater treatment, potable water treatment and other industry segments.