MDHHS, GCHD Issue CDC Best Practices on Water Management to Reduce Legionella Growth and Spread

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) together with the Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) issued a new draft toolkit to aid building managers in identifying areas in their buildings where Legionella might grow or spread and how to reduce that risk. The toolkit, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is being distributed to local health departments statewide to share with building managers whose buildings are identified as being at increased risk for Legionella.

“With warmer weather approaching, it’s important to remind residents that we are also entering the time of year for increased risk of Legionella infections,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for the MDHHS. “Because of the increase in cases in Genesee County over the last two years, we’ve partnered with Genesee County Health Department and the CDC in developing the CDC toolkit to support Legionella water management programs and reduce the risk of additional cases.”

Buildings that should have a water management program include healthcare facilities where patients stay overnight (or that house or treat people with chronic and acute medical problems or weakened immune systems), retirement homes, assisted living facilities, hotels, and buildings with more than 10 stories. Water management programs are also appropriate for some devices, including cooling towers, decorative fountains, some hot tubs and centrally installed humidifiers. Single family homes and small multiple family residences do not need water management programs.

Legionella can make people sick with pneumonia-like symptoms when they inhale contaminated water from building water systems that are not adequately maintained. Unfortunately, Legionnaires’ disease is on the rise in the United States. In an effort to reverse this trend, new industry standards (ASHRAE 188: Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems June 26, 2015. ASHRAE: Atlanta) were developed to help make building water safe from Legionella.

To help guide the implementation of these programs, staff from the Legionella team at CDC worked with staff from the MDHHS and the GCHD on toolkit production. MDHHS has also issued a Health Alert Network notification to healthcare providers statewide about the toolkit. Included are practical resources to help ensure that every water management program is comprehensive, effective, and in line with industry standards. This toolkit also highlights special considerations for healthcare facilities.

A draft version of the CDC toolkit created for MDHHS and GCHD is available here http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdhhs/Toolkit_Legionella_521804_7.pdf. A final national version will be available for download in June, after additional feedback is provided from those using it in Michigan. For additional information about Legionnaires’ disease, visit www.cdc.gov/legionella.


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