17 April 2020 Legionella warning issued for vacant buildings amid COVID-19 outbreak

posted 20 Apr 2020, 00:22 by Ian Clarenbone

Building owners and managers must be vigilant over potentially fatal Legionella at buildings left vacant due to coronavirus, urges property and construction consultancy, Ingleton Wood

Ingleton Wood has issued a warning over potentially fatal Legionella at offices and other buildings left vacant due to coronavirus.

With the current lockdown, many buildings will be empty or experiencing minimal occupancy and, as a result, domestic water systems within the building could potentially become a Legionella risk if action, such as regular flushing, is not taken.

Unoccupied buildings run the risk of water stagnating, providing conditions where harmful Legionella bacteria can proliferate.

Ingleton Wood is now urging property owners, managers and tenants across the region to be aware of the risks and take appropriate action.

‘Be vigilant and aware’

Wesley Henderson, building services engineer at Ingleton Wood, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has caused unprecedented building closures. Many have zero or reduced occupancy and now face an increased risk of exposure to Legionella. That’s why we’re encouraging building owners, managers and landlords to be vigilant and aware of their legal obligations.

“One of the greatest risks of potential exposure to Legionella will be when the lockdown ends. It is imperative that the water systems are made safe prior to reoccupation.

“It is not necessarily recommended to drain down mothballed systems as this does not always eliminate the risk. But in all circumstances the flushing of water should be exercised with caution as there is potential for stagnant water to form aerosols containing the bacteria.

“Risk assessments should also identify the risks and control measures required. If in doubt, a specialist water treatment company should be consulted.”

Six ways to tackle Legionella risk in vacant buildings amid COVID-19

1.      Review the Legionella risk assessment and written control scheme, particularly with current occupancy and operations in mind

2.      Identify low use water outlets and set up a flushing regime

3.      Identify if occupants or visitors may be more susceptible to Legionella and control the risk

4.      Ensure flushing of low or zero use outlets on a regular basis and recording of such activities

5.      Ensure routine water temperature testing records are maintained

6.     Ensure that water systems which have been left stagnant are recommissioned as if new (i.e. sterilising, microbiological testing).

14 April 2020 COVID-19 Closures Could Make Water Unsafe In Offices and Schools

posted 16 Apr 2020, 02:31 by Ian Clarenbone

The COVID-19 pandemic could threaten drinking water safety in buildings that have been closed. Purdue University is working quickly with other research teams to develop guidance for when places like offices, schools, and gyms reopen. 

Water left to sit in pipes can get contaminated with toxic heavy metals and bacteria — like the kind that causes Legionnaires’ disease, another illness that affects the lungs. 

“Now that all of the buildings are closed at this wide scale, we might have to start thinking about it because everyone will be exposed in every building all at the same time,” says researcher Caitlin Proctor.

Purdue engineering professor Andrew Whelton says every building is different — what works to keep people safe in an office might not work for a building that houses people who are critically ill. That being said,, he says there are some actions many building owners could be taking right now to address the problem.

“This would include flushing, routinely, all the water outlets in the building — once a week, at least,” Whelton says.

Whelton says state governments should also consider water stagnation problems as part of their emergency operations for COVID-19.

“What we cannot have is governors saying tomorrow we're opening up everything and everybody go back to work tomorrow — and everybody starts going back to the gyms in the morning where the water is set stagnant for three to four to five weeks and they're going to take a shower in that water," he says. "People start drinking water out of office buildings that haven't really moved in a long time — and so there really needs to be planning to address this.”

7 February 2020 Swimming pools closed at Melville Hall Hotel Isle of Wight after Legionnaires' disease bacteria found

posted 10 Feb 2020, 03:34 by Ian Clarenbone

Swimming pool and spa facilities have been closed at a Sandown hotel on the order of environmental health officers — after fears were raised guests could be exposed to Legionnaires' disease.

The Isle of Wight Council confirmed it had launched an investigation at the Melville Hall Hotel and Utopia Spa in Sandown. It said high levels of Legionella bacterium, which causes Legionnaires' disease, had been found in the pool and hot tubs.

One guest, who asked not to be named, said he was swimming when environmental health officers descended on the hotel, and told him to get out of the pool immediately.

When asked if any action had been taken at Melville Hall, an Isle of Wight Council spokesperson replied: "We can confirm the council's environmental health department is investigating the confirmed presence of the Legionella bacterium at an undesirable level in the spa and pool leisure facilities of a hotel on the Isle of Wight. Enforcement action has been undertaken to eliminate the risk, which has included the hotel taking measures to close both facilities pending ongoing investigations."

Reviews posted online by unhappy customers claim the facilities were not clean, there were birds in the outdoor swimming pool, the detox cabin would not heat up and algae was growing in the pool.

Georgia Day, who visited with a friend on January 31, described the experience as a 'not-so-relaxing spa day.' She said: "The pool was freezing cold and the hot tub had yellow signs with white and red tape around it — it looked like a crime scene, to be honest. We could only use a normal hot tub, the kind some people have in their gardens, and the sauna had to be switched on and warmed up." The pair left after 45 minutes.

Despite the fact the council had confirmed high levels of Legionella bacterium had been found, a spokesperson for Melville Hall Hotel and Utopia Spa said there was 'no proof' the facilities had been contaminated. “Our guests' health and safety is our highest priority," said the spokesperson. "The environmental health service is obliged to check all hotels on the Island — to date, we have not received any proof of water contaminates in any of our facilities or anyone becoming ill. Naturally, we will work with them during our ongoing refurbishment program to further enhance our superb facilities."

 

8 January 2020 A new-born is believed to have been the first victim of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at a Pimlico apartment block.

posted 9 Jan 2020, 04:19 by Ian Clarenbone

Three people in three months are known to have contacted the potentially deadly lung infection at Dolphin Square. Today it emerged that a five-day-old boy fell ill in a one-bedroom rented flat in Beatty House, part of the Dolphin Square complex, on February 8 last year. The boy’s parents, who have asked to remain anonymous, have launched legal action against Dolphin Square alleging breach of the duty of care.

He spent almost two months in hospital, where his condition became critical and he was transferred to Great Ormond Street. For several weeks it was not known whether he would survive. Whilst receiving treatment at GOSH, it was found that Legionella bacterium was causing his illness.

The boy’s father contacted landlords Dolphin Square Ltd on March 4. Four days later, Public Health England found a “high concentration” of legionella in the bathroom sink and shower.

The boy responded to treatment and has left hospital. But he remains under the care of consultants and his long-term condition is unknown. The family moved out in September. The boy’s parents said: “It was every parent’s worst nightmare to have our baby fall so ill just a few days after being born.”

Concern about Legionnaire’s disease at Dolphin Square, where there are about 1,200 flats in 12 blocks, first emerged last June, and Public Health England declared an outbreak in July.

Joseph Dawson, from law firm Leigh Day, said: “It has been a terrifying time for my clients and we are now hoping to get them some answers.”

 Dolphin Square said it does not comment on matters involving residents. It has conducted two estate-wide inspections of the water system.

 

17 December 2019 Heatherside Care Home ‘requires improvement’ after health risks exposed

posted 18 Dec 2019, 04:48 by Ian Clarenbone

The care home has been demoted to 'Requires Improvement' after new management introduced.

Elderly patients were at risk of Legionnaire’s disease for months after health inspectors ordered Heatherside Care Home to urgently improve their care and safety standards.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) outlined a series of concerns with fire safety and medicinal practices throughout the care home in Hook, a recent report says. According to the CQC: “The provider had failed to assess, monitor and mitigate the risks relating to the safety of the service, service users and others. Audits had failed to identify concerns found in relation to the fire safety, legionella management, medicines management, staff requirement and supervision and appraisal arrangements.” This highlighted ineffective conduct of fire drills including poor condition of fire doors in the building which had not been corrected following the previous assessment in March 2019.

The health care watchdogs across North Hampshire raised several risks for Legionnaires’ disease through improper water systems throughout the building that placed guests at risk of harm and required maintenance staff members to take a training course.

Manager of Heatherside Care Home, Steve Morton, 51, from Woking explained: “After we received the feedback from our CQC inspection we had a specialist company come in and readdress the fire doors in the building as well as a fire safety audit conducted by two inspectors. As of October 29, we were declared a safe care home by the fire brigade following our recent changes and we are working closely with the CQC to return to our original status by the next calendar year.”

11 November 2019 Double sentence for Legionella failure in Birmingham

posted 12 Nov 2019, 02:14 by Ian Clarenbone

Two people have been sentenced after failing to control the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria in the cooling tower at their business premises in Spring Hill, Birmingham.

 Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that, between June 2017 and February 2018, Kulwant Singh Chatha and partner Satpaul Kaur Chatha of Isher Hangers failed to put suitable measures in place to control the risk of Legionella bacteria from the cooling tower on their premises. Concerns raised by their own water treatment consultants were ignored, and no Legionella risk assessments were in place.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the cooling tower was not being managed to control the risk from Legionella bacteria. This failure exposed employees of Isher Hangers, as well as members of the public, to Legionellosis – a collective term for diseases caused by the bacteria including Legionnaires’ disease, which can be fatal. People who have underlying or current medical issues are especially susceptible to infection, which was a particular concern as Isher Hangers’ premises are in the vicinity of two major hospitals.

Kulwant Singh Chatha and Satpaul Kaur Chatha pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were each sentenced to serve 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £12,115 each, including a victim surcharge of £115.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Karen Sweeney said, ‘Isher Hangers were operating a cooling tower without biocide, ignoring the advice of their own consultants. Cooling towers have the potential to spread bacteria that can cause serious illness or death, if not maintained in accordance with the published guidelines.

2 September 2019 Barry Legionnaires' disease cluster identified as public warned

posted 3 Sep 2019, 05:53 by Wendy Gibbs

People have been asked to flush taps, drain unused garden hoses and put commercial screen wash in cars to stop the spread of Legionnaires' disease. The warning from Public Health Wales comes as a cluster of 11 cases has been identified in the Vale of Glamorgan in the past 12 months. Officials say there is "no evidence" the cases around Barry are linked.

"Although Legionnaires' disease is rare, it can be a potentially life-threatening illness," said Dr Gwen Lowe, of Public Health Wales. The disease is caught through inhaling Legionella bacteria, which are spread through the air in the form of vapours or droplets from a contaminated water source. Most cases of Legionnaires' disease notified to us are sporadic cases, but unexplained clustering does occur from time to time." Health chiefs are "closely monitoring" the current situation in a bid to ensure the cluster does not become an outbreak.

"Legionnaires' disease cannot be passed from person to person," added Dr Lowe.

1 September 2019 Leeds care home responds after Legionnaires' bacteria found in water

posted 3 Sep 2019, 05:51 by Wendy Gibbs

Bosses at a Leeds care home said they have “reassured residents and their families” after Legionella bacteria was found in water samples.

Donisthorpe Hall is a nursing home which provides accommodation and nursing for up to 189 people in one adapted building. It is currently classed as requiring improvement, following an August 2018 inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) health watchdog.

Managers say they have reassured residents and their families that there is no risk to residents or visitors following a health and safety check on its water system. Sue Cawthray, a trustee for the home, said: "During these checks, the bacteria legionella was found in some of the water samples. The management team took immediate expert advice from the council and infection control experts, and all necessary steps have been taken both to address the weaknesses in the water heating systems and to keep residents safe while this is happening."
In a statement released by the care home, they said open meetings have been held with residents, relatives and the wider community together with representatives of the contractors, the Trustees and Leeds City Council contracts team to enable them to ask questions about the situation.

The Registered Home Manager, Jane Stone, reassured residents and relatives. She said: “All precautions have been taken, we have a robust plan in place, which has been extremely effective the water system is being chemically treated and samples regularly taken in line with our action plan and risk assessment and all boiler temperatures have been adjusted. Since the onset of this situation, I have been in communication with the Care Quality Commission, Leeds City Council, Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, Public Health England, Infection Prevention and control lead nurse. All test results are showing the disinfection is working and that the bacteria is clearing from the system. We are open and transparent with all our test results, which we share with all statutory bodies."

Ms Stone confirmed no-one has presented any symptoms of the disease at the home and management are "constantly monitoring" residents. She added: "I would like to pay tribute to the staff and contractors who have been working many extra hours to keep things running smoothly with the least possible disruption to the home in order to manage these issues and to thank residents and relatives for their ongoing support.”

26 August 2019 British father fought for his life after getting Legionnaires disease at same hotel where two UK nationals died

posted 27 Aug 2019, 06:04 by Wendy Gibbs

A British father was left fighting for his life after contracting Legionnaires' disease at the same hotel where two other guests died from the same bug.
Scot James Cooper, 59, was given just an hour to live before lapsing into a four-day coma when he returned from the Kalofer Hotel, in Bulgaria, last year. Mr Cooper slipped into a four-day coma when he returned home. He spent three weeks in hospital in Kirkcaldy after returning to Scotland with a dry cough

His wife Janet, from Dunfermline, said she told the hotel but was horrified to learn that two holidaymakers had died from the same condition after staying at the same hotel this June. Janet explained that her husband's breathing became laboured and he was diagnosed with a chest infection and given antibiotics. Things soon took a turn a turn for the worse, and the Scottish stonemason was rushed to hospital where he lapsed into a coma. It was here he was diagnosed with sepsis and pneumonia Legionella.

Since making a full recovery, Mr Cooper said that the experience was "terrifying". He added: "One minute you’re on holiday having a great time. The next, you’re fighting for your life in hospital.”

His wife said she contacted the hotel manager to let her know. She explained: “I advised her to check the air conditioning and shower systems to hopefully avoid this happening to anyone else. She responded promptly via Facebook Messenger, shocked at my news, but also listing their alleged water cleansing routine and timetable. "She contacted me a couple of times after that, asking how James was. I was so shocked that these deaths have happened this year.”

John Cowan 43, from Hamilton, and Brian Taylor, 75, from Huddersfield, passed away within weeks of each other. Mr Taylor died on July 17 and fellow Britain Mr Cowan died on June 19 after being struck down with the disease at the same hotel.

The Kalofer hotel said they spent £23,000 on a new air conditioning system to prevent Legionnaires’ and said all tests had come back negative. Hotel spokeswoman Stanislava Petrova  said that they had “not been informed by the local health authorities about any case from last year”. She said: “From the beginning of the summer season, more than 50 samples from the guest rooms, the kitchen, the pools, the water heaters and the other parts and systems in the hotel have been tested and in all, no Legionella is found.”

22 August 2019 Second Bulgaria holidaymaker dies after trip to same hotel

posted 23 Aug 2019, 00:42 by Ian Clarenbone   [ updated 23 Aug 2019, 00:44 ]

Brian Taylor, 75, from Huddersfield, died in July, a month after holidaying at the Hotel Kalofer.

It follows the death of John Cowan 43, from Lanarkshire, who had also been staying at the same hotel in June.

Their holiday firm Jet2 said two sets of independent tests had found no evidence of contamination at the hotel.

Both families are threatening civil legal action against the flight and holiday operator. 

Mr Taylor's stepson Martin Farrell said: "We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken. No-one expects to go on holiday and catch this disease." Mr Farrell said he felt like Jet2 had "washed their hands of the situation" and demanded answers from the holiday firm. "It feels like they want to sweep it under the carpet. We want Jet2 to come forward and tell us why it happened, how it happened and what steps have been put in place to prevent it from happening again."

Irwin Mitchell, the legal firm representing the family, said it had been contacted by another man who was also diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease after holidaying at Hotel Kalofer in June. It said that man had been placed in an induced coma in intensive care but had since been discharged from hospital.

 

Jatinder Paul, from the firm, said: "We are now investigating how Brian contracted his illness and looking into his stay at the Hotel Kalofer. It is extremely worrying that other guests who stayed at the same hotel have also contracted this potentially fatal infection."

Mr Taylor became unwell days after returning from the Hotel Kalofer in the Sunny Beach resort where he had been staying from 10 to 17 June. His condition deteriorated and he was eventually taken to Royal Calderdale Hospital where he was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease and died on 17 July.

Jet2 said it had transferred all customers and bookings due at Hotel Kalofer to other accommodation and had put a stop on sales for this year and 2020. A spokesperson said: "We would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to their families at this very difficult time, and we have been in constant contact to offer all the assistance and support that we can. We will continue to assist the local authorities in their investigations as required."

 

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