Infection with legionella bacteria occurs through the lungs and then only if infected water mist is being inhaled. For example, in showers, steam rooms, hot tubs, or by choking in contaminated water (see ‘verneveling’). Most people who become infected with Legionella will not get sick. Only a small proportion of people who become infected will get Legionnaires’ disease.
Risk of getting infected
The risk of getting infected by legionella bacteria and to fall ill with legionnaires’ disease is higher if you:
● are over 40
● are a smoker
● drink alcohol / are an alcoholic
● have a reduced resistance / a weakened immune system
● have a chronic lung disease
There is no way of preventing infection with legionella bacteria, there are no vaccines that can prevent infection. The key is making sure that the water systems are maintained in order to reduce the risk of growing legionella bacteria. For more information, see ‘water treatment’.