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The Legionella bacteria is spreading across the news due to numerous people getting sick in New York from inhaling this contaminant. New York has experienced eight deaths, 97 people sick, 11 new cases since Wednesday, and 51 new cases in the last week.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by exposure to the bacteria Legionella; in most cases, people are exposed to the bacteria by inhaling contaminated aerosols from cooling towers, hot tubs, showers, faucets or drinking water.

There have been 22 buildings visited in New York to find the source of the outbreak since last Friday. Seventeen of those buildings have cooling towers and five of them tested positive for Legionella, including one at a hospital, two shopping plazas, a cell phone office building, and a hotel.

Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday, officials believed they had identified the only sites that are causing the outbreak, and no additional cooling towers are believed to be contaminated. All of those sites must submit long-term plans as to how they will maintain cooling towers to protect against any future growth of legionella.

People that have come in contact with this bacteria are experiencing flu-like symptoms, as well as bad cases of pneumonia. This bacteria can be treated, but even better, it can be prevented from reaching your water system in the first place.

Proper Management of Legionella

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recently developed in June a risk management plan to safeguard building water systems from legionellosis.

The new standard outlines specific requirements, including analysis, determining critical control points, monitoring procedures and documentation. This standard is under the responsibility of the building manager. This documentation can be recorded using an EAM/CMMS.

These new rules should have facility managers wondering how their water system currently works in their building, and are they protected?

This is not only dangerous for the workers but also the organization as a whole. Be prepared and have a maintenance plan in place to minimize the chances of your system being contaminated and having negative effects collect on your infrastructure.

EAM/CMMS working for you

EAM tracks the entire enterprise asset portfolio, including IT and physical assets, equipment and buildings, fixed assets and consumables, while CMMS tracks a subset of that. EAM will track the life cycle of your water system allowing staff to prepare for maintenance in the future to protect not only your assets but your consumers, which is where CMMS comes into play by focusing on the equipment life.

Instead of waiting for a problem to arise or fixing it at a higher cost, you have the ability to put a plan in place and implement the use of an EAM/CMMS. This will put your business in control and the ability to manage the quality of your water on your schedule not someone or something else’s.

In conclusion, Legionella is something that can be prevented if the proper maintenance plan is put in place; are you willing to take the risk with your water system?