January/February 2022 JEH: Direct From CDC/Environmental Health Services
Journal of Environmental Health (Volume 84, Number 6)
Editor's Note: The National Environmental Health Association strives to provide up-to-date and relevant information on environmental health and to build partnerships in the profession. In pursuit of these goals, we feature a column on environmental health services from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in every issue of the Journal.
In these columns, authors from CDC's Water, Food, and Environmental Health Services Branch, as well as guest authors, will share insights and information about environmental health programs, trends, issues, and resources. The conclusions of these columns are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of CDC.
Water Management Programs Are Key to Managing Legionella Growth and Spread
Elaine Curtiss, MEd, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Janie Hils, MPH, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDR Jasen Kunz, MPH, REHS/RS, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In summer 2021, several U.S. public health jurisdictions reported increases in Legionnaires’ disease cases above their respective 5-year baseline averages. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not know to what extent building water systems might have contributed to these increases, periods of reduced building occupancy or building closure and low water usage can create hazards for occupants. Reopening schools, workplaces, and businesses—and more people traveling and staying in hotels—can elevate the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria if appropriate steps are not taken. Environmental health professionals have an important role in reminding building owners, building operators, and cooling tower operators of ways to safely reopen buildings to prevent the growth of Legionella.
Water management programs help people identify hazardous conditions and take steps to minimize the growth and spread of Legionella and other waterborne pathogens in building water systems. Developing and maintaining a water management program is a multistep process that requires continuous review. This month’s column provides several different resources from CDC to aid in the development of water management programs and prevent the spread and growth of Legionella.