Legionella: two women hospitalized, investigations underway

Two women, mother and daughter residing in Piacenza (but in different homes), have contracted it legionella. Her mother is now hospitalized at the “Guglielmo da Saliceto” hospital in Piacenza, while her daughter is hospitalized in Bobbio. The Piacenza health authority announces that environmental investigations and relevant sampling are underway, both in the homes of the two women and in a farmhouse in the Rivergaro area where the women had lunch together over the weekend just gone.


Legionella is a disease caused by a bacterium and can present with a rapidly resolving flu-like form or, after an incubation period ranging from 2 to 10 days, as pneumonia.

Individual conditions such as advanced age, cigarette smoking, chronic diseases, immunosuppressive therapies and immunodeficiencies increase individual susceptibility and the risk of contracting the disease in a serious form.

The legionella bacterium is widely distributed in nature and is present, in low concentrations, in natural aquatic environments and water networks. Contagion can occur by breathing tiny drops of water (aerosols) containing high concentrations of the bacterium, spread into the environment by showers, hydromassage tubs, evaporative towers of air conditioning systems and other similar systems.

The multiplication of the bacterium can reach dangerous concentrations in the presence of factors such as water temperatures between 25 and 45°C, the presence of sediments, stagnation or encrustations in the water system, pipes, showers or taps.

To prevent its spread it is important to keep hot water at temperatures no lower than 50°C in storage tanks, while cold water should have a temperature lower than 20°C.

It is also important to keep showers and taps clean and free of encrustations, let water flow in little-used dispensing points before using them, periodically clean and replace tap filters, avoid condensation water collection systems near the filters of air conditioners and carry out periodic maintenance of boilers or other hot water storage tanks.

The infection is not transmitted by drinking water, even if contaminated, but only if it is inhaled. Tap water can be drunk safely.

There is no danger in using household appliances that heat water (such as dishwashers, washing machines, irons, etc.) since steam does not constitute a source of risk.

Aerosol therapy devices, humidifiers and nebulizers must be used exclusively with specific physiological solutions.

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