The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in a California state prison is more widespread than expected. Investigations found the bacteria in the water supply at a prison medical facility in Stockton and at two neighboring youth correctional facilities. Therefore, officials have restricted water use throughout the medical facility and neighboring juvenile facility, and are bringing in bottled water. They also put special filters on showers in the housing unit where the inmates had been housed in the California Health Care Facility, which treats about 2,670 inmates needing medical or mental health care.
The Legionella bacteria grows in water and is spread through water vapor. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria can cause a mild infection known as Pontiac fever or the more serious infection known as Legionnaires’ disease. People can contract the disease by inhaling the bacteria through the water’s vapor, not by drinking it. It is considered particularly dangerous for older people and those with underlying health issues. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to have your facility’s ventilation systems cleaned on a regular basis.
When the ductwork in a building is dirty, it becomes a breeding ground for dangerous microbes. These ducts can end up blowing bacteria, viruses, fungi, and molds throughout the building, which can cause people, especially those with weakened immune systems to become sick. Why? Because air movement inside is much lower and only a percentage of the air is fresh.
However, performing routine HVAC systems cleaning services is the first step in removing airborne contaminants and allergens out of the air you breathe. Making sure that dirt, dust and debris has been properly removed from air entrance and exit points (including grilles and registers), will help keep particles out of the ambient air.
The HVAC system should be regularly cleaned and maintained to make sure it is circulating fresh, clean air through the building. Over time pollutants such as dust and mold can accumulate throughout the ventilation system, and if the filters are not replaced regularly these pollutants can be spread through the circulating air.