There has been a lot about legionella and Legionnaires’ disease in the news recently, which we will explore later. But one story from the US caught our eye, about engineers at one Las Vegas hotel who kept the water systems clear of legionella throughout the pandemic lockdowns. Once a week they flushed every toilet and ran every tap and every shower in every room to keep the water flowing and lessen the risk of a legionella build-up. It’s not exactly the job they trained for, but it was a very simple way of saving lives.
In other news:
In the UK
A regional TV presenter was hospitalised after contracting Legionnaires’ disease on holiday in Majorca. It wasn’t until he returned home that BBC Points West presenter David Garmston began to feel ill, coughing and struggling to breathe. He tested negative for Covid-19 a number of times, but when he passed out, he was taken to hospital where he spent a week in intensive care.
Routine water sampling has uncovered legionella bacteria at Airdrie’s Monklands Hospital. The bacteria have been found in the water systems serving the renal ward, renal dialysis unit, and endoscopy ward. Patients are being given bottled water and staff facilities are out of action while further testing and remedial action is taken.
In the rest of the world
According to the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI), Denmark has one of the highest rates of Legionnaires’ disease in the EU. In 2020, 39 people died of the disease, with a total of 278 infections across the country. One theory is that the rise in cases is a result of Denmark’s obsolete hot water systems, though there are conspicuous regional differences in infections that have yet to be explained. The World Health Organization has noted that those who regularly consume alcohol have been the most affected.
Two passengers onboard the cruise ship Carnival Horizon were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease over the summer. The ship was put out of commission while extensive testing and disinfection measures took place, with a consequent loss of revenue.
An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Moncton region in Canada has resulted in the death of one person and a further six infections in other people, one of whom is in their mid-20s. Officials are investigating the source of the infections, but each patient had a different strain which is making it difficult to narrow down the source.
The town of Hamilton in New Jersey has seen outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease resulting in nine cases and three deaths since August 2020. The outbreaks are being investigated by the Department of Health, and while no legionella bacteria have been found at the local Trenton Water Works’ treatment plant and central pumping station, legionella has been detected in water samples taken from homes and businesses served by it. Local authorities have launched a public awareness campaign advising people to take precautions.