Cromer widow warns of silent killer which could be lurking in your garden hose after husband dies of Legionnaires’ disease

posted 16 Jun 2017, 00:14 by Ian Clarenbone

A widow has warned the public to be wary of their hose pipes after her 63-year-old husband died of Legionnaires’ disease believed to have been contracted through working in the garden. Stephen Clements, a Cromer grandfather, inhaled toxic bacteria which had grown in stagnant water within the pipe. He died a week later at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on February 24.

Now, the former builder’s wife Alison is cautioning others about the dangers of the disease, so that other families do not face the same tragedy as her own. She explained: “Stephen had cleaned the patio earlier in the year and left the hose out across the lawn filled with water. In the winter sun, it was the perfect temperature for the bacteria to breed. He was cleaning the terrace with a stiff broom and the garden hose on spray. The sweeping of the broom caused the perfect aerosol, which my husband then breathed into his lungs. My husband had a heart condition but was active and well. He began having symptoms, which appeared to be an upset stomach to start with but rapidly developed into pneumonia.”

The mother-of-two added: “I didn’t believe them when they said he might not make it. Steve and I had been together 43 years. The last thing we spoke about was what we would do when he came home. He spent his last two days in intensive care at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. They called me and said that Steve kept taking his oxygen mask off because he didn’t like it, and that they were going to sedate him so they could insert a respirator. His heart rate was going up and his kidneys began to fail. And then they told us that the antibiotics weren’t working on the pneumonia. They took him off his heart medication and his heart beat maybe another half a dozen times, and then he was gone. We had no idea that a garden hose could be so lethal.”

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a type of bacterium, called Legionella. People become infected when they breathe in the bacteria which have been dispersed into the air in very fine droplets of water known as aerosols. If the bacteria get inhaled into the lungs they can cause infection but it is very unlikely for one person to infect another.

Legionella can be found in many different environments. They can live in all types of water, including both natural sources and artificial water sources such as water towers associated with cooling systems and spa pools.

28 May 2017 War veteran almost dies after catching Legionnaires’ disease in new gym shower at Lifestyles Walton-on-the Naze

posted 30 May 2017, 00:54 by Ian Clarenbone

Graham Leach contracted the deadly Legionnaire's Disease from the water supply while showering at his local gym. The 68 year-old nearly died of pneumonia losing consciousness on Remembrance Sunday. Retired engineer Mr Leach spent two weeks in hospital as the bacteria caused blood poisoning and kidney failure.

Mr Leach said: "I go to the gym to get fit and end up a few months later more unfit and more unwell than when I started. I almost died and that's quite a shock.  I just cannot believe how it would happen in a new building."

The grandfather-of-four fell ill in November after he breathed in the bug found in water particles at Lifestyles gym in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex. He fell unconscious and was rushed to emergency care – only waking up two weeks later. Medics said Mr Leach, who served during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, is "lucky" to be alive. Doctors told his brother-in-law that he had been "less than two hours from death". Mr Leach visited the leisure centre – which had only been open for seven months – up to three times a week. The fitness enthusiast developed "terrible headaches and profuse vomiting" and later had to be put on antibiotics via a drip.

After his ordeal, Mr Leach is pursuing legal action against the centre's management and vows to never use gym showers again. The council-run leisure centre was closed until its water tested clean from Legionella. 

"Everyone is potentially at risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease," states advice on the NHS website. But those with existing medical conditions or heavy alcohol or tobacco users are more likely to come down with the bug, the website adds.

Legionella bacteria normally lives in harmless amounts in ponds and lakes. But the bug breeds rapidly when it gets into buildings which keep the water at temperatures of 20-45C. It feeds on rust, algae and limescale in the water and can breed to gut-wrenching numbers in spas, sprinkler systems and washing facilities. Large, old buildings such as hotels, offices and hospitals are more vulnerable to harbouring the bug because of their complex water supplies. 

27 May 2017 Legionnaires’ disease cases up to 60 in Europe: Linked to Dubai travel

posted 30 May 2017, 00:47 by Ian Clarenbone

In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease among European travellers returning from Dubai. As the source has not yet been identified, there could still be a risk for exposure to Legionella for persons visiting or living in Dubai.

Between 1 October 2016 and 23 May 2017, there have been 60 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported to European Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) with a history of travel to Dubai. The majority of cases stayed in commercial accommodation sites.

The number of cases reported during February and April 2017 are still higher than that seen in previous years. The most recent case became ill on 11 May 2017. These recent cases suggest there is still an ongoing exposure risk.

The risk of Legionnaires’ disease to travellers to Dubai is considered to be low. However, the risk may be increased for the following groups:

·         Those aged over 50

·         Those with underlying breathing problems

·         Those who have weakened immune systems

·         Smokers


If you are travelling to Dubai, be aware of the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease. If symptoms develop while in Dubai you should seek medical care. If symptoms develop within two weeks of returning home you should seek medical care and inform your healthcare provider of your travel history.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella pneumophila and other Legionella species. The illness usually starts with flu-like symptoms including fever, tiredness, headache, and muscle pains. This is followed by a dry cough and breathing difficulties which may progress to a severe pneumonia. The disease is spread through the air from a water source. People become infected when they breathe in aerosols (tiny droplets of water) which have been contaminated with Legionella bacteria.

26 May 2017 Inverness man survives brush with death after contracting Legionnaires' Disease during Thailand break

posted 30 May 2017, 00:44 by Ian Clarenbone   [ updated 30 May 2017, 00:55 ]

A holidaymaker who survived a brush with death after contracting Legionnaires’ Disease is now recovering at home.

Inverness businessman Kevin Dick’s condition was described as “touch and go” at one point as he battled the potentially fatal infection, which only began to take hold as he returned home from his holiday in Thailand.

The 54-year-old, a sales manager with power generation company Aggreko, started feeling ill on a return flight to Heathrow Airport almost a fortnight ago, after spending two weeks on the island of Ko Samui.

Now recovering at home in the Drakies area of the city, he was still too ill to speak this week.

However, his wife Linda, who owns Inverness salon The Hair Directory, said it was a frightening experience to go through.

“We were about an hour away from landing in London when he started to say he wasn’t feeling well and then after we landed he didn’t want anything to eat or drink, I put it down to the long flight and him being tired, but by the time we got home he was worse and went straight to bed.”

Even then, she said, they both thought it was just flu and it wasn’t until last Tuesday morning May 16 that they eventually decided he had to go to hospital.

“He got up at about 6.30am and was sweating very badly. He’d also had an upset stomach that just wasn’t getting better,” she said. “I took him to Raigmore Hospital and he was admitted as an emergency case.”

Initially diagnosed with pneumonia, further tests revealed he had contracted Legionnaires’ Disease, a severe lung infection usually caught by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water and which can lead to life-threatening problems, impacting on the proper working of organs and even leading to septic shock.

“At one point his temperature rose to more than 40 degrees and wasn’t coming down at all,” said Linda. “He wasn’t unconscious at any point but he wasn’t fully with things a lot of the time either.

“Kevin had a serious heart attack about 10 years ago but in a lot of ways this was worse – I think because it was a condition we didn’t really know anything about and even at the hospital some of the staff were saying they hadn’t dealt with it before.”

Linda and Kevin are frequent visitors to Thailand, with this latest trip to the country being their sixth, and Linda insists the incident won’t put them off.

In 2016 New York had more than twice the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease than England & Wales combined

posted 20 Mar 2017, 02:05 by Ian Clarenbone

New York sees 718 cases of Legionnaires’ disease

Public health activists are urging New York to implement tougher water safety regulations to help prevent future outbreaks. The “Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease” has released a report showing New York had 718 cases of the disease in 2016, while Ohio had 493, California recorded 413 cases, Pennsylvania had 355 and Florida had 332. Incredibly New York’s 718 cases of the disease accounted for 14% of the USA’s total count that year.

To put these figures in to context Public Health England reported 345 confirmed cases of the disease in the whole of England and Wales for 2016.

New York study identifies cooling towers

The outbreak in New York in 2015 led officials to bring in emergency regulations that focused on the management of cooling towers and improving the conditions to ensure these towers were not the source of any further outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease. However, the Alliance believes the drinking water infrastructure should also be looked at in detail. They stated ‘water-cooled air conditioning systems were quickly declared to be the source of the bacteria’, further stating that investigation procedures were not followed.

10% mortality rate

Legionnaires’ disease has around a 10% mortality rate, and many others who survive only do so after extensive hospital treatment.

Contaminated droplets of water that are inhaled by unsuspecting victims can lead to a severe form of pneumonia that is indicative of this condition. Some suspect biofilms that can safely harbour the dangerous bacteria exist inside old water pipes in the system, but unless and until an investigation is 
completed, it remains uncertain where the cases and outbreaks are coming from.

22 January 2017 JTF Wholesale to face trial over deaths linked to Legionnaires' outbreak

posted 23 Jan 2017, 00:20 by Ian Clarenbone

Company bosses will go on trial this summer charged with corporate manslaughter after two men died in a Legionnaires ’ disease outbreak linked to their store.

JTF Wholesale has been charged in connection with the deaths of 79-year-old William Hammersley, of Chesterton, and Richard Griffin, aged 56, of Clayton, in 2012. Both men had visited the firm’s Fenton branch before falling ill. An investigation revealed the probable source of the outbreak came from a hot tub on display at the store.

North Staffordshire assistant coroner Anthony Curzon has now adjourned the inquests into Mr Griffin’s and Mr Hammersley’s deaths until July 21, when the outcome of the criminal proceedings should be known. He said: “I have received notification from the Crown Prosecution Service that there is a criminal trial listed for hearing at crown court on June 12. It is scheduled to last for up to four weeks.”

JTF has pleaded not guilty to two charges of corporate manslaughter, two relating to health and safety, and two breaches of duty to employees and non-employees.

30 December 2016 Witham Health Centre GP Surgery closed due to water contamination

posted 4 Jan 2017, 06:44 by Ian Clarenbone

The surgery at the Witham Health Centre remains closed from December 30, as legionella bacteria was found in one of the taps.

The dental service and other healthcare providers within the centre are open, and the surgery is running out of the nearby Douglas Grove Surgery.

A spokesman for NHS Property Services, landlord for the Witham Health Centre in Mayland Road, said: “We can confirm Witham Health Centre remains open. As a landlord, we routinely conduct water testing across our estate and at Witham Health Centre we found positive testing for legionella bacteria on a sample from one tap in a non-patient area of the centre. In line with best practice guidelines we immediately arranged for the water system at the building to be fully flushed, cleaned and disinfected by a specialist contractor, allowing the majority of health services to continue to be provided at the centre. The GP practice at the site, Dr P K Mohanty & Partner, has opted to temporarily relocate to Douglas Grove Surgery until mid-January while further water testing is concluded."

They said all other patients who do not require the surgery should attend appointments as normal.

A notice on the surgery's website says it will be closed for maintenance but the phone number to make appointments remains the same, and patients' calls will be redirected.

18 November 2016 Probe after deadly Legionella bacteria found at Walton Leisure Centre

posted 2 Dec 2016, 05:45 by Chas Thompson

Urgent work is being carried out to locate the source of the potentially deadly Legionella bacteria after a customer contracted Legionnaires' disease at a council leisure centre.

A test sample was taken in a new shower area at Walton's revamped Lifestyles Centre last month and laboratory analysis came back positive. Tendring Council, which runs the pool and gym site, was told of the result yesterday and is undertaking further investigations.

Tests were initially carried out after Public Health England told the council on 18 November that a customer of the centre had been admitted to Colchester Hospital with Legionnaires' Disease.The customer had recently used the fitness room and shower facilities at the site which was identified as a possible source. It is not known whether they have recovered.


The council says it took the immediate step of closing the fitness room showers.They will remain closed until testing returns a negative result.The council has informed the Health and Safety Executive of the problem.

Leisure boss Lynda McWilliams said all the necessary procedures had been followed. “As soon as we were contacted by Public Health England, the showers used by the customer were closed down and test samples taken,” she said. “All the necessary bodies were informed while we awaited the results of the tests which were carried out at an independent laboratory. The council’s corporate health and safety advisor is currently working to find and eliminate the source of the bacteria.”

The investigation involves dismantling and disinfecting shower heads, flushing the system and taking more samples.

The council says comprehensive management systems are in place to manage the water systems at Walton Lifestyles, which comply with the health and safety regulations.

The showers are part of the new development of the site which opened in April.

Mrs McWilliams added: “Customers’ health and well-being is – and always will be – our top priority and we ask them to bear with us until this matter is resolved.”

The pool and gym remain open at the centre.

5 November 2016 Deadly Legionella bacteria found in nursing home's water supply

posted 7 Nov 2016, 03:41 by Ian Clarenbone

A nursing home has confirmed that traces of Legionella bacteria were discovered in their water system.

Greenhill Nursing Home in Timsbury is said to have resolved the issue after it was discovered.

The nursing home run by Leonard Cheshire Disability offers accommodation for people who require nursing or personal care.

A Leonard Cheshire Disability spokesperson said: "A small trace of Legionella was found in the water system at our Greenhill House service. We immediately isolated the bathrooms affected, and arranged for the system to be completely cleansed. We are also upgrading our boilers.”

"Our latest water monitoring report shows there is no longer any trace of Legionella present. We have kept the Care Quality Commission updated on this situation," 

It is not known if any of the residents were ill as a result of the water.

Greenhill Nursing Home was graded as inadequate by the CQC in April 2016, it was found inadequate in two categories and required improvement in three others.

3 October 2016 Grandfather, died of 'suspected Legionnaires' Disease' living in BUPA Care Home

posted 5 Oct 2016, 04:41 by Ian Clarenbone

Mr Ibbetson moved into Hutton Village Care Home in Essex early last year. But by June last year, Mr Ibbetson, a retired businessman who had run his own printing company, complained of feeling unwell. He was taken to Basildon Hospital five miles away where staff diagnosed that he was suffering from pneumonia but four days later his condition deteriorated and he died.

His grieving family claim they were told by doctors at the hospital that he had died from Legionnaires' Disease, a virulent killer infection that is usually spread through contaminated water. Outbreaks of the illness can be caused by exposure to Legionella growing in purpose-built water systems such as hot and cold water systems, cooling towers and even spa pools.

The Hutton home, which BUPA describe as 'warm and friendly', can look after 39 residents in an old stone building that has been extended to provide rooms. It was last inspected by the Care Quality Commission in July last year when the care overall was described as 'good.'

A BUPA spokesperson said: 'Our thoughts are with Mr Ibbetson's family and friends at this difficult time. 'The inquest is ongoing so it wouldn't be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.'

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