Returning holidaymakers warned to beware of legionella

People returning from holiday run an increased risk of being infected with the legionella bacteria, because they underestimate the dangers of taps that have not been used for more than a week, according to Techniek Nederland, the entrepreneurs' association for the installation sector. The association advises returning holidaymakers to flush their pipes well before they use them, NOS reports.

The quality of tap water deteriorates if pipes are not used or long periods of time. If the water in the pipes reach temperatures of above 25 degrees Celsius, this also increases the chance of legionella bacterium multiplying. Every year hundreds of reports are received of people being infected with the bacteria after returning from holiday. Techniek Nederland expects that the actual number of infections is much higher. 

Legionella bacteria can cause symptoms like tiredness, loss of short-term memory, pneumonia and flu-like symptoms. In exceptional cases, an infection can turn fatal. Infection mainly occurs through the inhalation of water mist. 

Techniek Nederland advises returning holidaymakers to flush all their cold and hot water taps for a minute, and the shower for 4 to 5 minutes. Remember also to flush the garden hose, which can heat up considerably in full sun. Avoid breathing in any water mist or spray while doing so. 

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