Legionnaires’ disease (the most severe form of Legionellosis) is a serious pneumonia caused by inhalation (and rarely aspiration) of legionella bacteria. The pneumonia can cause long-term health problems for about 10% of community acquired cases.
Microbial contamination of dental unit waterlines (DUWLs) is a significant infection control and prevention issue and detailed guidance is available. A responsible person should oversee the management of the DUWL system and carry out a Legionella risk assessment. A competent water engineering specialist will help you comply with your legal requirements – for example, a member of the Legionella Control Association. The LCA code of conduct for service providers provides a useful basis for your contract of work with specialist water engineers. Some LDCs have purchased bulk contracts with water engineering companies, offering considerable savings.
Key learning objectives
This advice examines the available evidence on whether bacteria from contaminated DUWLs pose health risks to patients or team members and provides suggestions for managing identified risks.
- Limited available evidence of legionellae infections associated with DUWLs
- The need to undertake a Legionella risk assessment and implement measures to reduce the generation of contaminated DUWL aerosols
- The preventive measures needed to maintain the water quality standard in the DUWL
- Procedures for managing DUWLs, including the hot-water plumbing, cold-water plumbing and recommendations for performance testing.