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Thursday 27th October 2016

Windscreen water Legionnaires' risk

14th June 2010

The Health Protection Agency has said people should be aware that stagnant car windscreen wiper water can cause Legionnaires' disease.


The HPA warned that 20% of cases of the disease in England and Wales could be caused by exposure to windscreen water.

The water allows the Legionella bacterium to thrive and if a person inhales the bacteria it can cause pneumonia.

The HPA carried out research which showed drivers had five times the risk of being infected with the disease.

In 2009 there were 345 cases of Legionnaires' in England and Wales. Symptoms include fatigue, fever and coughing, and it causes death in 10-15% of cases.

The researchers asked drivers to complete a questionnaire in order to determine if people who drove frequently were more at risk of the disease.

They discovered that people had the highest danger of contracting the disease if they were van drivers or passengers, or if they travelled frequently by car with the window open.

The highest danger came from not putting screenwash in windscreen wiper water.

Dr Isabel Oliver, regional director of the HPA South West, said they needed to carry out more research, but drivers might want to make sure they use screenwash to kill of bacteria.

"It does not spread from person to person but is present in water environments and is breathed in when it gets into the air in fine particles or mist", she explained.


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