Drivers advised to use screenwash

  • Study links drivers to Legionnaires' disease
  • High mileage drivers at greatest risk
  • HPA to carry out further studies 

Motorists are being urged to use screenwash in their wiper fluid following Legionnaires' disease fears.

A study by the Health Protection Agency says drivers who don't put anti-bacterial screen wash in their fluid bottles are at risk of contracting the disease.

Legionnaires is caused by the legionella bacteria commonly linked to water systems such as air conditioning units, showers and fountains where water is given off in a fine spray. The disease, a severe form of pneumonia that can be fatal, lives in water, but using screen wash kills off the germs.

High-mileage company car drivers who do not use screen wash are at greatest risk when the washer bottle is filled up and they inhale small droplets of infected water.

The HPA study looked at potential risk factors for drivers and passengers and concluded that drivers figure disproportionately among cases of sporadic Legionella infection.

Researchers for the study interviewed 75 patients in England and Wales who had recovered from community acquired Legionnaires' disease between July 2008 and March 2009, comparing them to a group of matched people who had not experienced any similar infection.

The HPA will now carry out further studies to explore the link and determine whether the use of screen wash in wiper fluid could play a role in preventing the disease.