Hot Water Prevents Legionnaires' Disease

Good Housekeeping Magazine - 16 Sep 2003
United Press International

PITTSBURGH, Sep 15, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- If a home water heater is set below 120°F, it may make allow Legionnaires' disease germs to flourish and make people ill.

However, many health health organizations advise to lower the water heater temperature to 110° to prevent scalding burns for children and elderly people, who can't perceive the risk of burn from hot water, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

"There's a misconception this is an exotic organism that causes outbreaks and that people don't need to worry about it in drinking water," said Janet Stout, director of the special pathogens lab at the VA Medical Center in Pittsburgh.

In the study, presented at the American Society for Microbiology's meeting on infectious diseases, Stout tested 21 homes where people had Legionnaires disease and found in five homes, the strains of bacteria in the plumbing and the patients were an exact match.

Stagnant water at 77° and 108° as well as rust, scale, and other microorganisms can promote the growth of Legionella, a bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, named for the American Legion convention in 1976 where it was first recognized.


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