Restrooms can spread Legionnaires' disease

Legionnaires' disease can spread when you flush your toilet, spreading invisible 'beams' of water into the air.

According to a report published in June 2020, in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, describes the case of two patients in France who are likely to develop Legionnaires disease by breathing in air pollutants, which are too polluted water. toilet flush . Previously, researchers suspected that toilet flush could spread Legionnaires' disease, but this was the first time a genetic analysis linked the infection to contaminated toilet water.

Picture 1 of Restrooms can spread Legionnaires' disease
Legionnaires' disease is spread by breathing in air particles that are contaminated water during flushing.

"Water from the toilet can be a source of infection , " said the study's lead author, Dr. Jeanne Couturier, a biomedical biologist at Saint-Antoine Hospital in Paris. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, Legionnaires is a serious lung infection or pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Bacteria live in water and are harmful to their health as they grow and spread in water systems, such as cooling towers, hot tubs, showers, sinks and sprinklers.

We can become infected by breathing in air droplets (in vapors or mist) that contain bacteria . The disease is usually not spread from person to person. According to the CDC, many people exposed to Legionella will not get sick, but those at high risk include seniors and people with weak immune systems or chronic lung disease. Two patients in the new report have weak immune systems. The first was an 18-year-old young man who had a bone marrow transplant and was taking immunosuppressant drugs. The second was a 51-year-old man hospitalized for Hodgkin's lymphoma, an immune system cancer.

The patients had Legionnaires disease while in the hospital or shortly after being discharged from the hospital, and thus, their disease was determined to be likely from the medical system. Both patients recovered after being treated with antibiotics. An investigation of the origin of the infection found Legionella in the toilet bowl water, but not in the shower or in the room sink. Genetic analysis shows that the bacteria strains in toilet water are similar or closely related to the pathogenic strains for patients. No other potential sources of infection were identified.

To see if this is a common problem, researchers took samples from 29 toilets in 5 different hospital buildings, but there were no positive results for Legionella, showing how This mode and route of infection rarely occur. Contaminated toilets have been disinfected daily with bleach and measures proved to be effective in preventing the growth of Legionella. There will be no more samples from toilets for positive test results in the next year and a half.

Another way to prevent the potential spread of Legionella through aerosols generated during flushing is to close the toilet lid before flushing. Dr. Jeanne Couturier said: "It seems that educating patients to close the toilet lid before flushing, especially for immunosuppressed patients or patients with many comorbid conditions, who are at risk of developing the disease. Legionnaires will be very important. "

The findings also suggest teams investigating the case of Legionnaires' disease in health care facilities that the flushing of toilets should be considered a means of transmitting and checking contamination in tank water samples. If there are other common sources of legionella infections, such as showers and faucets, clean your hands.

To confirm that flushing the toilet can transmit Legionnaires, scientists will need to conduct experimental studies in a controlled laboratory environment.

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