Covid-19 and Reopening Concerns

The reopening of buildings after being silent due to the Covid-19 shutdown causes concern for the increased risk of Legionella and other water bacteria. Mabbett continues to provide bacteriological water quality sampling support to hospitals and dental clinics to help achieve the safety that their patients deserve. To that end, Mabbett conducts sampling for Legionella at inpatient medical centers, including 10 VA Medical Centers, as well as heterotrophic water bacteria sampling at dental clinics.

Legionella is a bacterium found naturally in the environment and is the primary human pathogenic bacterium that causes a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaire’s disease. Legionella thrives in stagnant water and at temperatures between 77- and 130-degrees Fahrenheit, a range that includes most hot water systems and shower heads at healthcare facilities. To be infected, a person must breathe in mist or vapors containing the bacteria. Most healthy individuals do not become infected with Legionella after exposure, but those above the age of 60, smokers, or with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk of infection. Methods utilized in the prevention of Legionella within hot water systems include disinfection (i.e. chlorination or ultraviolet light), and temperature control valves at fixtures that allow temperatures to be maintained above 130-degrees Fahrenheit in the system while ensuring safe temperatures to the user.

Dental unit waterlines (i.e. the plastic tubing that carries water to the high-speed handpiece, air/water syringes, and ultrasonic scaler) can promote bacterial growth and development of biofilm due to the presence of long, narrow-bore tubing, inconsistent flow rates, and the potential for the retraction of oral fluids. Dental health care personnel and patients could be placed at risk of adverse health effects if water is not appropriately treated. Methods utilized in the prevention of bacterial growth within dental unit waterlines includes the use of anti-microbial tablets in water reservoirs and the routine flushing of waterlines during water reservoir changes.

The bacteriological water quality sampling services provided by Mabbett are part of our clients’ overall water treatment and surveillance programs aimed at supplying clean water at our clients’ facilities.

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