In the news last month, there were a number of reports of Legionnaires’ disease, with a major outbreak in Portugal. Positive tests of legionella bacteria continue to be reported as a result of building closures due to lockdown, and one UK care home group incurred a heavy fine as a result of a fatality three years ago.
10 dead in Legionnaires’ outbreak in Portugal
Over the past months, 10 people have died and more than 88 have been infected in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Portuguese city of Matosinhos. More than 75% of those infected are people over the age of 50. The source of the outbreak was tracked down to a factory’s cooling towers – as soon as they were switched off, the infection rate fell significantly. An investigation into the causes of the outbreak is underway.
Gardeners affected in New Zealand
Gardeners on the South Island of New Zealand have been advised to wear masks after five people were hospitalised with Legionnaires’ disease. Another five people have been diagnosed with the disease and the common denominator was that all of them had recently used potting compost.
Salisbury care home fined £150,000
Following the death of a resident in one of its care homes in 2017, Sentinel Healthcare has been fined £150,000. This is in addition to an undisclosed sum the company has already paid to the victim’s family. The investigation into the fatality discovered “vast quantities” of the legionella bacteria on the taps and shower in the victim’s room.
Legionella found in US school
The legionella bacteria has been found in the pipes of a high school in Michigan. After the school had been closed for so long after the COVID-19 lockdown, the staff asked for the tests to be carried out as a precautionary measure. The school is working remotely while the remedial work is being carried out, including high-velocity flushing and treatment.
An outbreak in an Australian town centre
Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been notified to the authorities in South Eastern Sydney. In both cases, the victims had spent time in the Hurstville town centre, and local residents have been told to be on the lookout for potential symptoms. Testing is being carried out in cooling towers and air conditioning units in the area to try and identify the source.
St Andrews outbreak
Two student halls of residence at St Andrews University in Scotland have been affected by the discovery of the legionella bacteria in their water systems after routine testing. Temporary shower facilities have been set up for the affected students, who have also been provided with bottled water while work to flush and clean the systems is being carried out.