Beware pneumonia-causing bacteria lurking in your geyser (and how to kill it)

Research from Stellenbosch University's Water Institute has found a connection between geysers and the increase of Legionella, a bacteria that causes severe pneumonia when lurking in your hot water geyser.

Stellenbosch University senior lecturer in community health Dr Jo Barnes says legionella only attacks certain people.

Older people, smokers, people with high alcohol intake, people with chronic lung diseases as well as people with cancer are at risk of contracting legionella, says Barnes.

According to Barnes, the Legionella bacteria can survive the water temperature up to 50 degrees and won't kill it.

Read: High temperatures will kill off Legionnaire's disease-forming bacteria in geyser

A hot water temperature of 60 degrees is recommended. At that temparature, the bacteria will survive for 30 minutes before it dies.

Dr Jo Barnes, Senior lecturer in community health - Stellenbosch University

Most of the Legionella you find will be in larger air conditioning systems that use water, it lurks in stagnant water.

Dr Jo Barnes, Senior lecturer in community health - Stellenbosch University

If you have an aircon system, a geyser or a tap that you rarely use it will be a good idea to just let it run for ten minutes at least twice a month.

Dr Jo Barnes, Senior lecturer in community health - Stellenbosch University

Barnes says a high dose of chlorine also helps to kill Legionella.

Soaking a shower head in household bleach and hot water also helps to kill the bacteria.

To hear the rest of the conversation, listen below:


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