25 February 2019 Hotels in Asia ignore basic health and safety checks

posted 26 Feb 2019, 04:22 by Ian Clarenbone

Legionnaires’ disease is a powerful pathogen that can easily spread through the air conditioning system.

Citing insufficient manpower and low budgets, hotel operators are guilty of negligence of the most basic health and safety checks in their hotel air conditioning units. From hotel owners to senior engineers there is little enthusiasm or willpower to act responsibly. 

Not enough is being done to clean and sanitize air conditioning equipment. Annual cleaning is a minimum. Inspections by outside engineers have found black mould and dangerous bacteria in Asia’s hotels some showing signs of not being cleaned in decades. Air quality is compromised. Spores and microscopic pathogens like Legionnaires’ disease –known killers – go unchecked.

Hotel operators have failed to act and there is evidence that some local operators ignore public safety. Even top-level management at head offices fail to act to deal with air quality issues that are known to cause illness, preferring to ignore the problem rather than tackle it head-on.

The problems have been well documented by shocked engineers specializing in air handling equipment. Hotel operators in Asia continue to ignore the warning signs. Guests health and safety is often compromised.

Experts described this inactivity by hotel operators as a scandal, hotel operators are unwilling to admit that a problem exists. It’s considered nonessential work and is only paid lip-service.

The air we breathe contains millions of microscopic organisms. The vast majority are harmless, however, given the right conditions of moisture and heat they can turn nasty. Black mould can develop and responsible engineers have ways to tackle the problem. Today this can be done without the use of hazardous chemicals like acids that produce dangerous fumes and damage equipment.

Turning a blind eye to public safety is not new in Asia. There is little enforcement. Too few resources and its low priority status means that inspections are few and far between.

And it’s not just Asia. As recently as 2015 a spectacular failure in a New York hotel led to 10 people’s death in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. More than 100 people were hospitalized. A stark warning to hotels in Asia where the dangers are so often ignored and there are fewer inspections.

16 October 2018 British tourists have been evacuated from the Suncity Hotel in Oludeniz Turkey

posted 17 Oct 2018, 07:42 by Ian Clarenbone

HUNDREDS of British holidaymakers had to change hotels after an outbreak of the deadly Legionnaires’ disease.

Travel firm Tui acted after the scare last week at the four-star Suncity hotel in Oludeniz, Turkey. Some guests had been diagnosed with the waterborne illness when they returned to the UK, the company confirmed. Tui said the move was “precautionary”, adding: “We audit all of the hotels to ensure they meet our high standards.”

A TUI spokeswoman said: “We were made aware a small number of holidaymakers who returned to the UK have been diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease, following a stay at the Suncity Hotel in Oludeniz. As per our standard procedures, we are working with the hotel management to conduct the relevant risk assessment. As a precautionary measure, all customers have been relocated to alternative accommodation. We closely audit all of the hotels to which we operate to ensure they meet our high health and safety standards, and we would like to reassure customers that situations such as this are extremely rare.”

24 September 2018 Tamworth Legionnaires' disease cases 'may be linked

posted 25 Sep 2018, 07:08 by Ian Clarenbone

Health experts are examining six cases of Legionnaires' diseases in Tamworth which could be linked to a "common source".

Two patients are "recovering" from the illness, caused by bacteria commonly associated with water systems, Public Health England (PHE) said. It is also examining four other cases in the town over the past six months, where the patients have recovered. Experts are taking detailed histories of where the people visited.

Dr David Kirrage, lead consultant with PHE West Midlands Health Protection Team, said: "While we do not currently have a direct link between these cases, the evidence we have points to the possibility that there is a common source."

Dr Kirrage said they were looking to see whether a common local source of infection would be found. He said Legionnaires' disease was a rare but "potentially life-threatening illness", which cannot be passed from person to person.

"As a precaution we are working with the Health and Safety Executive and Tamworth Borough Council to identify and control any possible sources of the disease," he said.

Early symptoms include a flu-like illness with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches and fever which can lead to pneumonia.

31 August 2018 Devon health care centre closed after deadly bacteria discovered in taps

posted 3 Sep 2018, 00:14 by Ian Clarenbone

A Devon health care centre has been closed after Legionella bacteria was discovered in taps. Further tests are being carried out at Paignton Health and Wellbeing Centre in the old Paignton hospital building in Church Street.

The local NHS advised anyone in a high-risk group who develops a cough or fever above 38C after visiting the centre to contract their GP.

A statement from the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust said it was carrying out more testing and remedial work. It said in a statement: “Although it is normal for Legionella bacteria to be present in older buildings and any risk to people in outpatient settings is minimal, we have decided as a precaution to cancel clinics at Paignton Health and Wellbeing Centre while we carry out further testing and remedial works. Our swift actions will prevent the possibility of infection; however, anyone who has a compromised immune system or is pregnant and develops a cough/fever above 38 degrees after a recent clinic attendance at Paignton Health and Wellbeing Centre should seek advice from their GP, as there is a urine test for Legionella, performed at Torbay hospital and Legionella can be treated with antibiotics.”

Dr Selina Hoque, Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the trust, said: “We carry out regular testing of all our estate buildings, and are closing Paignton Health and Wellbeing Centre as a precautionary measure to minimise the risk to our staff and patients. We hope to re-open Paignton Health and Wellbeing Centre on Wednesday 5 September once we have checked that decontamination of the building has been completed. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the short notice cancellations, but protecting people’s health and safety is our first consideration. We will reschedule cancelled clinics as soon as possible, and in the meantime, anyone who has any queries about their appointment should contact the number given on their clinic letter.”

NHS England has been informed of the incident.

20 August 2018 Residents moved out as Legionnaires' disease bacteria found at sheltered housing in Birkenhead

posted 21 Aug 2018, 06:15 by Ian Clarenbone

All 62 residents of Vincent Naughton Court, which houses people aged 55 and over, are in the process of being moved to temporary accommodation after regular tests revealed a "high reading" of Legionella. No cases of Legionnaires' disease have been reported at the site - but the bacteria can cause serious illness, particularly in older people.

Sanctuary Housing, which manages the building on Rodney Street, Birkenhead, said the problem was discovered on Friday morning. A spokesman said: "Through our regular water testing at Vincent Naughton Court we identified a high reading of Legionella bacteria in the water supply.

We immediately alerted United Utilities, Wirral Council, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive and have been supporting the 62 residents to temporarily move out of the building to allow remedial work and subsequent re-testing to take place. While no cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported, as the Legionella bacteria can cause serious illness, particularly in older people, we are taking the precautionary step of moving everyone into temporary accommodation while we eradicate the risk. We anticipate that residents will remain in their temporary accommodation while the issue is resolved and we are providing them with support and advice, including covering their day to day living costs."

United Utilities moved to reassure the public that the contaminated water was confined to internal systems in the Vincent Naughton Court building. A spokesman said: "This appears to be an entirely private matter involving internal pipework and not a problem with the mains water supplied to the site.

A spokesperson for Wirral Council said: "Upon being informed of the discovery of legionella at Vincent Naughton Court in Birkenhead, the council has assisted Sanctuary Housing through its environmental health services and its adult social care service, which is provided by Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust."

23 July 2018 Legionnnaire’s bug shut Belfast Council’s Avoniel Leisure Centre Spa on three occasions

posted 24 Jul 2018, 07:14 by Ian Clarenbone

The spa area of Avoniel Leisure Centre had to close on three occasions, with follow-up water tests after these closures accounting for additional failed tests.

Day-to-day running of Belfast's leisure centres was outsourced to social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) in 2015. GLL said: "Routine water samples of the spa pool are carried out on a monthly basis to ensure the highest compliance with health and safety legislation. The spa pool and infrastructure at Avoniel is much older than at other leisure centres and requires a lot more maintenance resulting in more closures, as pipework needs to be updated and maintained.

"Following some of the closures in 2017, a full overhaul of the system was carried out in partnership with Belfast City Council. As part of GLL and Belfast City Council's continued commitment to investing and maintaining some of the older leisure facilities in Belfast, a refurbishment of the pool and pool tank at Avoniel was also completed this week."

Figures show all incidents of unsatisfactory levels of Legionella were found since GLL took over the management of Belfast's leisure centres in January 2015. There were two other incidents where unsatisfactory levels of Legionella were found in Belfast spa pools, both at Shankill Leisure Centre, on June 25, 2015 and October 17, 2016. Neither of these incidents required the pool to be closed.

Belfast City Council said: "Health and safety at leisure centres is a top priority for both Belfast City Council and GLL, which operates the centres on our behalf. Environmental health officers take water samples routinely from all pools on a regular basis which are then sent to an outside laboratory for testing. When the results are returned any necessary action is taken immediately. As part of the council's strategic partnership with GLL and the independent Active Belfast Board we meet regularly to review service standards and performance through a range of mechanisms and are confident that GLL operates within all health and safety guidelines."

In April GLL defended itself against claims from union Unite - which represents some workers in the leisure centres - that changes to staff practices had resulted in thousands of pounds worth of damage at leisure facilities. Addressing staff numbers, GLL said it had increased the number of pool plant operators from 15 to 55 since taking over the operation, which has increased the number of pool plants operators on shift across its 14 facilities.

"An independent review of leisure centre operations was carried out in 2017 and no evidence was found to suggest that GLL operates outside of health and safety legislation or guidance," GLL added.

2 July 2018 Legionnaires’ Disease warnings in Spain

posted 3 Jul 2018, 06:00 by Ian Clarenbone

Hotels and other popular tourist haunts have been warned to tighten up their precautions this summer after a near 50% spike in the number of legionnaires’ disease cases reported in Spain last year.

While not all registered cases involved tourists, the National Association of Environmental Health Businesses (Anecpla) said that the arrival of summer with high temperatures and increased use of air conditioning highlighted the need to “maximise controls” on cooling systems where the bacteria breed.

Eight people died in Spain in 2017 from the disease in what was the second worst year in a decade, while the number of reported cases soared to nearly 1,500 from just over 1,000 in 2016 according to figures from the National Centre for Epidemiology. One of the worst outbreaks happened in early autumn when eight hotels were affected in the town of Palmanova on the island of Mallorca. It caused a wave of cancellations, especially in its leading incoming tourism market, the UK, after British travel agents’ clients were advised to steer clear of the resort.

In its warning, Anecpla pointed out not only the dangers from hotel, spa and other accommodation systems but also less obvious ones such as those used by restaurants and bars on their outdoor terraces. Another area prone to propagating the disease was the very place tourists went to in the case of falling ill, namely hospitals and clinics. “All (systems) are susceptible to provoke a possible outbreak of legionnaires’,” said the Director General of Anecpla, Milagros Fernández de Lezeta.

The association said the need for regular maintenance was underscored by the 2017 figures which showed that ‘it’s not all being done as well as it should be’.

One specialist company Stenco said that since 2013 there had been “a growing trend in Spain that broke the progressive fall in cases that had taken place since 2002.” It also pointed out that ‘data declared from other European Union countries has also revealed a major increase when compared to previous years’.

28 May 2018 Legionella bacteria was found on the Pride of Kent P&O ferry after it returned to service

posted 4 Jun 2018, 01:19 by Ian Clarenbone

The bacteria was found in shower heads in facilities used by crew members in the Pride of Kent. Pipes are now being flushed through in an attempt to rid the cross channel ferry of the organisms.

The Pride of Kent, which operates between Dover and Calais, was pulled out of action after smashing into the Port of Calais last December during Storm Ania.

A P&O spokesman said the bacteria was found in May during routine tests.

"After its return to service after a five month absence, we conducted routine tests on the Pride of Kent and found low levels of Legionella bacteria in three shower heads in the crew quarters. This is being dealt with by the standard process of super-chlorination followed by the flushing through of the pipes. It is important to note that Legionella bacteria is naturally occurring in water and at these levels there is minimal risk to passengers or crew."

11 May 2018 Legionella bacteria discovered in water supply at flats complex in Stoke-on-Trent where hundreds live

posted 16 May 2018, 08:04 by Ian Clarenbone

Tests are being carried out after Legionella bacteria was discovered in the hot water supplies at a flats complex housing hundreds of residents. The bacteria - which causes legionnaires' disease - was discovered at Stoke-on-Trent's West End Village and the neighbouring HQ of Staffordshire Housing Association (SHA), on London Road, last week.

SHA has written to the complex's 300-plus residents to stress that the problem is confined to the development's communal areas which include a cafe and restaurant, hairdressers, gym, meeting rooms and a hydrotherapy pool. It led to the temporary closure of the restaurant and cafe and hairdressers and the gym continues to have no hot showers. Now tests are continuing at the complex until Thursday, May 17 as environmental health continues to monitor the situation.

Residents have praised the swift action to contain the bacteria. Sue Owen, aged 66, who has lived at West End Village for seven years, said: "We had a letter telling us what was going on and it hasn't affected the flats. They have done some work and the businesses were up and running after a day."

SHA has confirmed that 'evidence of some Legionella bacteria in the communal hot water system' was discovered on May 3 following routine tests. Director of Housing Service Tim Sheail said: "We were advised to shutdown hot water supplies to the communal areas until the problem could be eradicated. This did not affect individual apartments within West End Village but involved the hot water supplies to the kitchens and toilets in the offices and the communal areas of the village. We immediately isolated the hot water taps in the affected areas, informed staff and delivered letters to all of the residents explaining what was happening. We used a specialist water hygiene company to treat the affected hot water cylinder the following day. We have advised residents that the treatment and re-testing process should mean the hot water system will be back to normal by the end of next week. It takes a few days because it involves a laboratory testing process and the bacteria can take a few days to incubate.”

 "We have installed alternative forms of hot water heating to the restaurant kitchen, in consultation with environmental health, and we have provided alternative hot water to the hairdressers, so their business would not be disrupted. This was all completed within 24 hours of shutting off the hot water supplies. We informed the gym manager on the day we found the problem and provided a notice for external customers explaining that hot water showers would not be available while we resolve this problem.”

 "Staff have been available to answer any residents’ concerns and most have been reassured by the fact that this did not affect their own hot water system."

 Stoke-on-Trent City Council has inspected the hot water supply to the cafe and restaurant and hairdressers and is happy with the temporary arrangement.

20 April 2018 Royal United Hospitals NHS Trust fined after exposing patients to Legionella risk

posted 14 May 2018, 01:05 by Ian Clarenbone

Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £300,000 after failing to control the risk to patients from exposure to Legionella bacteria in its water systems.


Bristol Crown Court heard how, in July 2015, Mr Terence Brooks, a 68-year-old patient at Bath’s Royal United Hospital, died from Legionnaires’ disease. Following Mr Brooks’ death, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation which found that the Trust had failed to put in place all of the necessary precautions to minimise the risk to patients in the annex to the William Budd Ward from exposure to Legionella.


HSE’s investigation revealed that the annex to the William Budd Ward is on a separate loop of the hospital’s water system to that which supplies the main ward. This important fact had not been recognised by the Trust from the opening of the annex in 2009 until Mr Brooks’ death in July 2015. This failure meant the required temperature checks and tests for the presence of Legionella bacteria in the water had not been carried out in the annex over this period.


Tests carried out after Mr Brooks’ death revealed problems with water temperatures in the annex and Legionella bacteria were found in water samples taken from outlets in all five isolation suites in the annex to the William Budd Ward.


The strain of Legionella bacteria which caused Mr Brooks’ death was not the same as that found in the water system. However, HSE concluded there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the Trust for exposing patients to risks from Legionella bacteria in its water systems.


Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £37,451.78.


Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Susan Chivers said: “Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia which can be fatal and people who are being treated in hospital are especially susceptible to infection. That is what makes RUH’s failings in Legionella management all the more concerning. RUH had measures in place to prevent and control the risk to its patients from exposure to Legionella from its water systems, but these were ineffective due to the Trust not having accurate knowledge of the layout of those water systems.”


“All organisations have a responsibility to manage their water systems to protect people from the risk of Legionella infection. It is essential that organisations review their risk control measures whenever there is reason to suspect that they are no longer valid or when there are changes to a water system.” After the hearing, Terence Brooks’ family gave the following statement: “The family are pleased that the HSE have pursued this and that as a result changes have been made at the RUH. Our hope is that no other family will suffer as we have.”

1-10 of 69