Experts from the fields of water management and HVAC system maintenance have urged asset and property management firms to take proactive measures against legionnaires' disease.
Legionnaires' is a water borne disease and can be transmitted through inhaling mist from water that contains the bacteria, which is, however, not transmitted by human contact.
The mist may come from hot tubs, showers, or air-conditioning units for large buildings.
Al Hoty Stanger's deputy general manager, Christopher Rajamani, said: “Water needs to be supplied in temperatures less than 20oC or above 50oC. That's because the legionella bacteria multiplies between 20oC to 45oC.”
Experts also said that the 38oC threshold is ideal for the bacteria to survive and thrive. “38oC is the perfect temperature for the bacteria, which is also the ideal human temperature for human bodies. This can lead to growth of colonies and an epidemic can soon be looming on your hands.”
Experts said that the UAE government has been at the forefront of preventing the disease and is approaching the cause proactively. Culligan Middle East's director of technical services, Rodger Macfarlane, said: “The government and municipality classifies legionella bacteria and the legionnaires' disease as a reportable disease classified alongside typhoid and cholera. So, if there an outbreak of legionnaires' disease it has to be reported by law to the government.
“But the government has gone two steps beyond that, the first one was: all accredited laboratories were required to report positive legionella results. Even if we found one bacteria, we had to report that to the municipality. That was upgraded a few ago, and now it is required of all accredited labs to report all test results – positive or negative – including makani, block and room number.”
Culligan also said that the health department conducts surprise visits with a view to test water samples in different communities with a corrective approach. “They don’t want to fine concerned parties unnecessarily, but they want the stakeholders to rectify the problem if one exists.”
Rajamani added: "If you look at the water policy across properties within the UAE, we still do not have any clear indication that they have an emergency response for an outbreak from within their properties.
"Each FM company needs to also have one person responsible and trained to respond to any emergency coming out of a water problem."