More and more Danes are contracting the dreaded lung infection Legionnaires’ disease, and leading researchers can’t find out why.
The rate of people contracting the illness is higher in Denmark than the European average and figures from the State Serum Institute (SSI) reveal that twice as many Danes were infected with the bacteria in 2017 and 2018 compared to the previous years.
Another interesting aspect is the regional differences. For instance, there were just 13 cases reported in north Jutland in 2017 but 65 in southern Denmark. There were 43 in the capital region, 33 in Zealand and 56 in mid-Jutland.
The government wants to get to the bottom of the mystery and has therefore set aside 2 million kroner to investigate, and ultimately prevent the numbers continuing their upward trajectory.
The disease is brought on by inhaling the freshwater Legionnaires’ bacteria that thrives in warm water at temperatures between 20 and 50 degrees.
Most cases involves people contracting the disease by taking showers in their own homes, but water taps, toilets, spas and air conditioners can also spread the illness. The bacteria infect the lungs through inhalation of water mist.
Three recommendations to avoid the disease are firstly, check the temperature of the water in your home – cold water shouldn’t be warmer than 20 degrees when it comes out of the tap and the warm water shouldn’t be cooler than 55 degrees.
Secondly, check your water system to see if there are any areas where water can be still and stagnate, as the bacteria thrive in still water. Make sure your water pipes are insulated – you don’t want the warm pipe to be too close to the cold pipe.
Finally, rinse your water system if you’ve been away on holiday, as the water in the system has been still for a while. Turn on the taps, shower etc and allow the water to run for a bit. Brushing your teeth in the shower is also not recommended.