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Healthy Environment

Legionella

Legionella bacteria can be found naturally in the environment. Bacteria can commonly be found in water sources such as:

  • hot water tanks
  • air conditioning cooling towers
  • humidifiers
  • whirlpools, spas, hot tubs
  • decorative water fountains

You can become infected with Legionella bacteria when water droplets in the air you breathe have been contaminated with it. If you become infected with Legionella bacteria you may develop a respiratory disease called Legionellosis or a milder form of the disease called Pontiac Fever. The bacteria is not spread from person-to-person and you cannot become infected by drinking water containing Legionella bacteria. Information on Legionellosis and how to protect your health is available through Public Health Ontario.

Statistics have shown that Legionella can spread through inadequately maintained cooling towers and evaporative condensers. Cooling towers are the most common source for the illness. For information on reducing the grown of Legionella in buildings, a tool kit has been created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Cooling Technology Institute and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) provides more information on controlling Legionella in cooling towers.

For more information on the incidence of Legionellosis in Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario, visit our Health STATS page.

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