Legionnaires' disease is contracted by breathing in large numbers of the legionella Pneumophila bacteria. These bacteria are widespread in the environment and are able to thrive in warm water conditions. They can be found in water systems, such as hot water tanks, cooling towers and large air conditioning systems. They are more likely to be found in complex plumbing systems.
Water suppliers treat drinking water with chlorine to kill off bacteria. However, they can continue to thrive in plumbing systems which are not installed or maintained correctly, which is why WaterSafe urges homeowners and businesses to only choose qualified and knowledgeable plumbing businesses.