Over the past few months there have been a number of news stories that highlight the dangers of Legionnaires’ Disease. We’re highlighting them to show why it’s so important to your business and community to take precautions to prevent the growth of the legionella bacteria.
Spikes in the USA
In Chicago, there have been two deaths and many hospitalisations, including 15 people admitted to intensive care, as a result of three times the number of instances of Legionnaires’ Disease in the first three weeks of July than during the same time period in the last two years. In Rhode Island, there has also been a spike in the number of cases of Legionnaires’ Disease, with speculation that it was as a result of buildings being locked down because of the pandemic. The state usually averages around 10 cases a month, but in the last six weeks there have been 30 reported, with 28 people needing hospitalisation.
The post-lockdown spike in the number of Legionnaires’ cases in Michigan has prompted a public debate about the role of local health officials in the imposition of extended lockdowns as a result of the pandemic. It is being suggested that public health orders issued by unelected officials need to be limited to 28 days, with the argument that the extended building closures over lockdown were the cause of the spike. It is also thought that the outbreak could have been caused by warm weather and widespread flooding in the area.
While Chicago, Rhode Island and Michigan health officials have yet to track down the source of their outbreaks, in Minnesota, hospitalisations resulted after two people stayed at a hotel in Albert Lea. It’s believed that the source of the outbreak was the pool or hot tubs, all of which have been closed for cleaning and maintenance.
Emergency replacement of pipework
In the Netherlands, Erasmus University was forced to close one of its buildings and replace piping after high levels of legionella bacteria were discovered in its water system. The building and cafeteria are closed completely until the end of August, with disruption throughout the building expected to continue until the end of the year. University departments have had to be moved into other buildings while the work is carried out.
News in the UK
In Scotland, a judge has ruled that the disciplining of a facilities manager was wrong after he raised concerns about his employer’s management of water systems in some Highland Council schools. Mears Facilities Management was ordered to pay £9,000 compensation for constructive dismissal.
Darlington Memorial Hospital has been forced to close the showers in its maternity unit after elevated levels of legionella bacteria were detected. No infections have been reported, and the incident is being managed.
A High Wycombe family has just hired lawyers to help in an investigation into whether more could have been done to prevent the death of Lynn Stigwood, who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease when on holiday at the Dominican Republic’s Grand Sirenis resort in August 2019.
Prevention better than cure
At the beginning of July’s hot weather, The Sun published an article warning parents of the dangers that could be lurking in paddling pools, including the possibility of using water contaminated with the legionella bacteria. WaterSafe also issued a warning about the dangers of Legionnaires’ Disease from dirty hosepipes and outside taps in the hot weather.
If you have any concerns about the safety of your water system, contact us to book a legionella risk assessment, testing, training or any of our other services.