Water safety is a serious concern, one that impacts Americans every day. Of the many issues that can affect water quality and safety, legionella bacteria is a growing, yet manageable concern. Today, we want to talk about legionella bacteria, why it can be so dangerous, and why testing for it is necessary.

But first, what is legionella? This is a fairly common type of bacteria, one with many different specific species, that flourishes in water. We don’t know how long it has been infecting humans but the bacteria itself was first discovered in the 1970s when a then-unknown disease was infecting people in Philadelphia. The bacteria was linked to a type of pneumonia called “Legionnaire’s Disease,” named because it was traced back to a convention for the American Legion.

Legionnaire’s Disease occurs when someone consumes water that has legionella bacteria. The bacteria can then travel from the digestive system into the lungs, causing a type of pneumonia.


This type of pneumonia occurs as a result of consuming water infected with legionella bacteria. Common symptoms include fever, which happens to almost all patients, cough and chills. Many patients can also experience neurological issues, such as confusion and impaired cognition, as well as gastrointestinal issues and loss of coordination.

These symptoms can be quite severe, leading to hospitalizations. Yet they can often be completely avoided with rigorous testing. That is why testing for legionella bacteria is essential for all water systems that are used for regular consumption.

Legionnaire’s Disease can Be Fatal

One of the scariest aspects of legionella bacteria is that, once it’s in your lungs, it can be fatal. For people considered at risk, Legionnaire’s Disease has a fatality rate of 25 percent. For otherwise healthy people, it can be as high as 10 percent. In any case, the disease is often treated with strong doses of antibiotics, which must be taken completely for treatment. There is currently no vaccine for Legionnaire’s Disease, which means prevention is focused on water treatment and testing. Only through regular treatment can legionella bacteria be detected and eliminated before it infects someone.

Independent Water Systems Need Testing

While every municipality in the US has some sort of plan to limit and prevent legionella bacteria from growing in their water supplies, the same cannot be said for water drawn from wells or off the grid from these larger water treatment and distribution systems. Thankfully, legionella testing is quite simple and scalable, and companies exist that are dedicated to testing for it and other harmful products that can infect water.

AquaKnow is dedicated to providing accurate and important water testing. Whether you get water from a well or are developing water treatment facilities of any size, we can create customized testing regimens for your water. Contact us today to learn about how we test for legionella bacteria, and a host of other substances that impact water safety and quality.

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