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Preventing Occupational Exposure to Legionella

September 2019
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2019-131
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Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia that can be severe. It is caused by breathing in or aspirating small water droplets containing a pathogenic type of Legionella bacteria [CDC 2018b]. Legionella can also cause a less serious infection called Pontiac fever that has symptoms similar to a mild case of the flu. Historically, most outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease have occured in buildings with large complex water systems. Workplaces that have been associated with outbreaks include hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, plastic injection molding manufacturers, and automobile manufacturers [CDC 2016a].

In recent years, community-wide outbreaks caused by construction-related disturbance to drinking water distribution lines or cooling towers have also been observed.

Legionella is usually not transmitted from person to person [Correia et al. 2016]. Risk factors for developing Legionnaires’ disease include having chronic lung disease, a weakened immune system, liver or kidney failure, cancer, or diabetes; older age; and cigarette smoking [CDC 2016b,c; 2017a; NAS 2019].

Preventing Occupational Exposure to Legionella [PDF – 575 KB]

Suggested Citation

NIOSH [2019]. Preventing occupational exposure to Legionella. By Burton N, Afanuh S. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2019-131, DOI: