The measures taken by the Austrian federal government to limit the spread of the corona virus have led to the temporary shutdown of many companies. As a result, there are, among other things, longer retention times for the water in the pipes and water-carrying systems. Biofilms can form. There is an increased risk in systems carrying hot water. Basically, bacteria can multiply in the pipe system, which can increase the health risk. Legionella are a problem area, which enter the organism through inhalation of the finest water droplets (aerosols) and can thus trigger severe pneumonia - legionnaires' disease. This primarily affects customers and employees of companies in which people use showers (fitness centers, hairdressers, hotels, swimming pools, showers in gyms, sports facilities or company cloakrooms, etc.) or come into contact with water spray (hairdressers, washing systems, whirlpools, humidification systems Etc.). On the other hand, drinking legionella-contaminated water does not pose a risk.
Preventive measures to restart operations
If water outlets are not used for a long time or are not used regularly, measures must be taken before operation starts again. This applies if the respective tap has not been used for more than a week. Before restarting, all water extraction points - this also applies to shower heads and tub outlets - must be opened and rinsed with cold and warm water (both fully open) for several minutes. In the case of mixed water fittings, the water must be turned on fully at the middle temperature setting.
In addition to thermal disinfection, chemical disinfection can also be carried out by specialists. These measures also serve to prevent Legionella, which causes Legionnaires' disease (Legionellosis), a serious, sometimes fatal pneumonia caused by inhalation of aerosols with bacteria of the Legionella genus (mostly "Legionella pneumophila ") can trigger. Legionella is one of the most dangerous pathogens for pneumonia due to its high case mortality.
In good time before actual commissioning, it is advisable to take a water sample (or several water samples) and have them examined for possible contamination in an accredited laboratory. This shows whether the measures taken have led to the desired results.
The AQA GmbH Legionella Primer, the “Legionella” folder from AGES and the Corona Information from the WKO on drinking water hygiene offer assistance with prevention and correct sampling. Legionella sampling kits are below aqa.at available.
Request to the government:
We ask the government to support the potentially affected companies - especially in the tourism industry - in all matters relating to the reopening - also for safety-related issues in hygiene.