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The importance of Legionella prevention

Legionella, an underestimated danger

Legionella is a bacteria that grows naturally in watery environments, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs but also in man-made water installations, such as water pipes, cooling towers,… In nature, legionella bacteria are generally harmless to humans, but in favourable conditions, the bacteria can trigger serious respiratory infections.

To prevent the presence of these bacteria in the air, you need to make sure they cannot multiply in water. The ideal condition for the growth is stagnant water between circa 20°C and 55°C. So correct water treatment is extremely important! As such, Anne-Mie Veermeer, CDO (Chief Disinfection Officer) at Ekopak, warned of extra alertness at the time of the end of the corona pandemic. Cooling towers of companies, showers and taps at hospitality and sports facilities had been shut down for a while at that time. The ideal breeding ground for bacteria. (read the press article in Dutch)

Shower where water flows out


Legionella can only be contracted by breathing in contaminated water droplets, so it spreads in the form of aerosols coming from water vapor. These water droplets are present when using showers, cooling towers, hot tubs,… When inhaled, these tiny water droplets can further develop in our lungs, causing legionellosis. Legionellosis can create a serious health risk for humans and animals. It can evaluate from a flu-like feeling to heavy pneumonia, which can cause death.

Unlike COVID, legionella is a bacteria for which medication exists, which can slow down the development of the disease. Fortunately, legionella has gained more attention in the last few years, which has led doctors to think of legionella more quickly, and to intervene sooner and initiate appropriate treatment.  Persons with lowered immunity are at higher risk of getting sick when they have inhaled the bacteria. People who have had legionellosis, similar to COVID patients, may have permanent damage with similar symptoms, such as fatigue, loss of concentration,…

“If water pipes have been inactive for more than a week, then flushing before commissioning is highly recommended.”

Optimal water treatment

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses, sports facilities, hospitals, etc., is legionella prevention. Besides the threat to public health, legionella contamination can lead to economic losses and reputational risks. So preventing legionella infections is vital, especially in water treatment facilities where water is stored and recycled for long periods. It is important that your water is of optimal quality, we provide some tips below.

Legionella bacteria

Tips to prevent legionella 

Several strategies can be used to prevent legionella contamination in water treatment facilities. These include regularly monitoring water quality, implementing appropriate disinfection methods, such as chemical disinfection or thermal disinfection, and maintaining optimal water temperatures to prevent legionella growth.

It is also crucial to properly design, maintain, and clean water systems, and train staff in legionella prevention protocols. Don’t have this knowledge in-house? Our specialists at Ekopak will be pleased to help you with it.

What does Ekopak do?

We take a multi-faceted approach to preventing legionella contamination. This includes thoroughly monitoring water quality, regular cleaning and disinfection of equipment, and implementing advanced filtration technologies. Continuous research and development keeps us up to date in terms of innovation, to continuously improve and refine our prevention practices.

Sources: Health Belgium, Vlaanderen