You cannot catch Legionnaires’ disease from a mask!

The post reads: “Mask wearers beware… Worth checking it out..”

This Facebook post was shared hundreds of times claiming that a woman who had COVID symptoms had actually contracted Legionnaire’s disease from her mask.

The text reads: “Mask wearers beware… A caller to a radio talk show recently shared that his wife was hospitalised and told she had COVID and only a couple of days left to live. A doctor friend suggested she be tested for legionnaires disease because she wore the same mask every day all day long. Turns out it WAS legionnaires disease from the moisture and bacteria in her mask. She was given antibiotics and within two days was better. WHAT IF these ‘spikes’ in COVID are really something else due to mask wearing??”

This is FALSE!

You cannot catch Legionnaires’ disease from wearing a mask.

Legionella.org, a non-profit organisation that provides information about the disease, states on its website: “You cannot contract Legionnaires’ disease from wearing face masks. Legionella bacteria is transmitted by aspirating drinking water or breathing in water droplets. Legionella is not spread from person-to-person in respiratory droplets nor does the bacteria survive on dry surfaces. Your mask would not be a source of transmission for the Legionella bacteria”

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of lung infection caused by breathing in mist or water that is contaminated with the bacterium. The condition is characterised by a cough, fever, headache, and shortness of breath — all symptoms that are also associated with COVID-19 and could potentially result in the misdiagnosis. Though Legionnaires’ is treatable with antibiotics, about 1-in-10 infected people will die.

However, as noted by Legionella, if a person were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, it would not be a consequence of wearing a mask. Water contaminated with the bacteria must be directly inhaled or drank by an individual in order to become infected. As such, a mask would theoretically need to come into direct contact with contaminated water in order for it to be inhaled. Even so, Legionella only grows in standing water under warm temperatures and cannot survive on dry surfaces. 

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