Our home water supply is infected with Legionella. I am really concerned. I don’t drink tap water, but do I have to worry about showering, using the dishwasher, washing my clothes, and brushing my teeth?
We have found that the risk of acquiring Legionnaires’ disease from your home water system is quite low. Generally, those who have contracted the disease from their home water systems are usually smokers.
Legionella can be isolated from a small percentage of residential water systems. If the bacteria is present, the risk of disease to the average person (with no serious underlying illness) is extremely low. It is also likely to be found in water faucets as well as showers. The role of showers in the transmission of Legionella is overemphasized. Elevated hot water temperature (about 130°F or 55°C) can minimize the chance that Legionella will grow in a water system. Consideration should be given to the risk of scalding to small children and impaired adults if the water temperature is set at this high temperature.
With respect to your question, there is no risk with use of a dishwasher, washing clothes, and showering. For immunosuppressed patients, we recommend that tap water not be drunk. It is theoretically possible to contract Legionnaires’ disease from brushing your teeth with tap water.