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What Do You Know About Preventing Legionnaire’s Disease?

Legionnaire’s disease is a respiratory illness associated with the inhalation or aspiration of water sources (aerosols) contaminated with Legionella pneumophila bacteria. There are more than 50 Legionella species with L. pneumophila being the most common. The largest outbreaks of Legionella have been linked to cooling towers, pools, fountains, ice machines, and industrial water systems. Managing Legionella is challenging as it survives in biofilm. Biofilm forms easily in pipes and narrow tubing, and is found in nature, industry, healthcare settings, and in dental unit waterlines (DUWL). It is critical to maintain safe water for all items connected to air or water lines (handpieces, ultrasonic lines, and air/water syringe lines) as some microorganisms can be harmful or deadly.


Understanding the type of source water used in your setting is critical. Which types are used in dentistry?

Municipal Urban City Utility Infrastructure; Blue Water Main Cap JamesBrey / E+
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Use safe source water (< 500 CFU/mL) including, municipal, distilled, or sterile water (for surgical procedures).

Water bottle vector cartoon illustration Irina Cheremisinova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Flush all DUWL for 20 seconds to 30 seconds between patients to remove any possible contamination from the previous patient.

Modern dental unit waterline equipment Marko Rupena/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Once DUWL quality is determined, initial, periodic, or continuous chemical “shock” treatments are recommended to reduce or eliminate biofilm.

Purple bacteria under water drop Luyali / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Boil-water advisories are issued as a public health announcement indicating that tap water is not safe to drink unless it is first boiled.

thin line teapot on gas stove Infadel / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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If hands are visibly contaminated, use alcohol-based hand sanitzer.

Closeup Asian woman hand using wash hand sanitizer gel dispenser automatic machine Tzido / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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What Do You Know About Preventing Legionnaire’s Disease?
Not bad, but there’s room to grow when it comes to understanding Legionnaire's Disease prevention. Consider reading more about this important facet of dental hygiene care. Good luck!
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This information is from the article How Can Dental Offices Prevent Legionnaire’s Disease? by Kandis V. Garland, RDH, MS. To read the article, click here.
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