We rely on water for countless everyday activities, from drinking and cooking to bathing and cleaning. However, not all water is as pure as it looks. Even seemingly clean water can harbor dangerous, invisible contaminants like viruses and bacteria. One famous waterborne illness is Legionnaire’s disease, caused by the bacteria Legionella. But this bacteria is actually behind more than one potential health risk. For instance, Pontiac Fever is also caused by Legionella. However, this illness is often overlooked when considering water safety.
With the convenience of readily available water comes the responsibility to ensure that it is safe for use. In this blog post, we will cover the basics of Pontiac Fever, how it is contracted, risk factors, and how to prevent bacteria in your water supply. By understanding the potential hazards and taking appropriate precautions, we can help to prevent the outbreak of waterborne illnesses like Pontiac Fever and protect ourselves and our communities.
What Is Pontiac Fever?
Pontiac Fever is an illness caused by Legionella bacteria. It can cause flu-like symptoms, which usually start to appear within 2 to 5 days after exposure and can last for several days to a week.
Pontiac Fever is named after Pontiac, Michigan, where the first recorded outbreak of the illness occurred in 1968. The outbreak affected workers at a local health department, where multiple employees came down with fever and flu symptoms but without Legionnaire’s signature pneumonia.
Since then, Pontiac Fever has been documented in other parts of the world and has been linked to various sources of Legionella bacteria. Pontiac Fever is generally not life-threatening and most people recover fully without treatment. But it’s important to get rest and drink plenty of fluids to avoid more serious complications.
Pontiac Fever Symptoms
Similar to influenza, the symptoms of Pontiac Fever may include:
- Muscle aches
- Dry cough
Some people recovering from Pontiac Fever may also experience lingering fatigue for several weeks after the illness has passed.
Pontiac Fever vs. Legionnaire’s Disease
Pontiac Fever and Legionnaire’s Disease are both caused by the Legionella bacteria, but they differ in severity. Legionnaire’s Disease is a severe form of pneumonia that can be life-threatening, while Pontiac Fever is milder and often goes away on its own without treatment. Still, it’s important to see a healthcare provider to confirm your diagnosis if you suspect that you have Pontiac Fever or any other illness caused by Legionella bacteria.
How Do You Catch Pontiac Fever?
Pontiac Fever is contracted by breathing in contaminated water droplets. Legionella bacteria can be found in natural water sources such as rivers and lakes, as well as in man-made water systems such as cooling towers, hot tubs, and water tanks. The bacteria can become airborne when water droplets are released into the air, such as through a shower or misting system.
More recently, it has also been discovered that Pontiac Fever can be spread through potting soil. In 2007, multiple employees at a plant nursery in New Zealand contracted Pontiac Fever from a previously unknown strain of Legionella in their soil. However, water is still the primary carrier of Legionella and the most common root of Pontiac Fever or Legionnaire’s Disease.
It is important to note that Pontiac Fever is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.
Common Sources of Legionella Exposure
Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water environments, particularly those between 77°F (25°C) and 108°F (42°C). Common sources of Legionella exposure include cooling towers, hot tubs, whirlpools, humidifiers, and decorative fountains. The bacteria can also grow in hot water tanks, plumbing systems, and air conditioning systems if they are not properly maintained.
Health Risk Factors
Pontiac Fever can affect anyone, but certain groups are more susceptible to the illness. These include people over 50 years old, smokers, and those with weakened immune systems. Individuals with underlying medical conditions such as chronic lung disease or diabetes may also be at higher risk.
In rare cases, Pontiac Fever can lead to complications such as pneumonia, but this is not common. While Pontiac Fever is usually a mild illness and not life-threatening, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms, especially if you are in a high-risk group.
How to Prevent Bacteria in Your Water Supply
There are several measures you can take to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria in your water supply. The most important step is to properly maintain and clean all water systems. Regular cleaning and disinfection can help to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria. Additionally, maintaining proper water temperatures can also help to prevent bacterial growth. Ideally, water temperatures should be kept below 77°F (25°C) or above 140°F (60°C).
One of the simplest and most reliable ways to get cleaner water is to install a whole-home water filtration system. Filtration systems are an effective way to ensure that the water in your home is safe and free from harmful bacteria, such as Legionella. These filtration systems work by removing contaminants from the water as it enters your home, before it is distributed to your faucets, showerheads, and appliances.
A key benefit of using a whole-home water filtration system is that it can provide comprehensive protection against a wide range of contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and minerals. By removing these contaminants, you can enjoy clean, safe, and great-tasting water throughout your home.
Of course, not all water filtration systems are created equal. Some filtration systems may be designed to remove specific contaminants, while others may provide more comprehensive protection. To ensure that you are choosing the right filtration system for your home, it is recommended to consult with a water filtration expert who can help you evaluate your needs and recommend a system that is tailored to your specific requirements.
Find Your Safe Water Solution with The Science of Water
At The Science of Water, we understand that tap water safety is a critical priority to protect your health and your family. That’s why we offer free tap water testing and consultations to guarantee the safety of your water supply.
Our team assesses and installs water filtration systems to meet your unique needs. Using filtration technology backed by NASA and the EPA, our advanced water systems purify your home’s tap water to the highest standard. Whatever you’re looking for in a water filtration system, we can help you enjoy safer, clearer, and more delicious water through every faucet and appliance in your home.
Don’t wait to find out about contamination when it’s already too late. Proactively protect your household with tap water testing and filtration for pure, delicious water that can be relied on. For more information about The Science of Water or to book your free water test, just get in touch with our team today!