Not cleaning your air conditioner can cause pneumonia, says Department of Health

Professional air conditioner cleaning services have been swamped with work this week after Thailand’s Department of Health announced that dirty air conditioning units can cause pneumonia. Moist air conditioner units are breeding grounds for bacteria, viruses and fungi according to the department.

High numbers of private residences and businesses have requested professional cleaning of their air conditioner units this week following the department’s warning to the public.

Moist and dirty air conditioner units create the perfect breeding conditions for a bacterium known as legionella. Breathing in legionella can cause a severe form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease begin with a headache, muscle aches and a high fever. By the second or third day of showing symptoms, the infected may develop a cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Cases of Legionnaires’ can be severe and even be fatal.

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The bacterium can also cause a mild form of Legionnaires’ called Pontiac fever – a respiratory infection similar to acute influenza – which causes fever, chills, headache and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn’t infect the lungs and disappears within a few days.

The Department of Health recommends having your air conditioning units cleaned professionally at least once every six months. Most air conditioning cleaning services in Thailand cost around ฿500-฿600 per unit for a thorough cleaning of both the inside and outside.


Thailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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