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."


20 August 2019 Family of Scot who died from Legionnaires’ Disease in Bulgaria to sue Jet 2

posted 20 Aug 2019, 06:42 by Ian Clarenbone

THE family of a Scot who died from Legionnaires poisoning at a Bulgaria hotel has launched legal action against tour operator Jet 2.  John Cowan, who would have turned 44 tomorrow, tragically passed away in June this year after falling ill at the Hotel Kalofer in the country’s Sunny Beach resort.

His devastated family begged travel bosses for answers over what happened to the Hamilton man. Now they have launched a civil claim and it has emerged four others are believed to have been struck with the same virus at the same hotel.

Heartbroken brother Barry Cowan, 41, said: “We are all devastated. Neither Jet 2 nor the hotel have helped us at all - it’s like they’re just trying to hush it all up rather than help a bereaved family.”

John, who was a hotelier himself and known as Jake to his friends, died on June 19 as a result of Legionella he contracted while on holiday in Bulgaria. He first became ill while on holiday and continued to suffer the effects of the virus until he died one week after returning home.

The causes of death formally listed on John’s death certificate are “septic shock” and “Legionella Pneumonia”. Little is known about the cause of the outbreak, but it’s understood the hotel’s air conditioning system has been examined. Jet 2 is also understood to have not examined the aircraft that John travelled on.

Barry, also from Hamilton, added: “Jet 2 told us they had not tested the aircraft my brother was on and they don’t think this is the source of the injury. We know of two other UK families affected by this who also stayed in the same hotel. Apparently, there were also two hotel staff members who became ill.”

John’s tearful mum Marie Cowan, 63, described the tragic events that led to her son’s passing. The retired care assistant, from Hamilton, said: “When John came home, he was feeling unwell. He was weak and his bones were aching. He basically stayed in bed most of that week - it wasn’t until he started getting short of breath that we went to the GP. As soon as the doctor saw John he realised he needed urgent attention and phoned an ambulance which took him to Wishaw General.”

Medics ran emergency tests and put John on a ventilator straight after discovering he had pneumonia in one lung. However, by 10.30pm that night John’s kidneys stopped working and he was put on dialysis.

The following morning it was confirmed to Marie that her son had Legionnaires Disease. She added: “They had him treated by a medical team from Leicester but by that time he had pneumonia in the other lung as well. “John was going to be moved to the Golden Jubilee but before the transfer he had to undergo an operation to help him breathe.

“However, during surgery, he went into cardiac arrest where he was unresponsive for 30 minutes. John was eventually revived and taken to the Jubilee however on arrival specialists told us John had suffered catastrophic brain damage as a result of the lack of oxygen, so we gave permission to turn off the ventilator and give John a dignified passing.”

It is understood Public Health Scotland were made aware of the outbreak after being contacted by one of the medical team from Leicester. They are also believed to have already made contact with the other victims of the Hotel Kalofer outbreak.

John’s heartbroken brother Barry added: “It was the hardest thing ever and I don’t think it’s something we’ll ever get over. We just want answers - to know why this happened, to know it will never happen to anyone else and to know why the tour operator and the hotel have done nothing to help. The travel insurers won’t even pay out to help us recover funeral costs - they said because John died of an illness and not an accident then it means John wasn’t covered. It’s a joke. We’ve no option but to take legal action when all these companies push you around.”

Mark Gibson, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors and Head of the Foreign and Travel team, said: “We are currently investigating a claim that a man died as a result of Legionnaires poisoning at a hotel in Bulgaria but as the case is at an early stage it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

7 August 2019 Hot tubs and hose pipes could cause deadly Legionnaires' disease

posted 8 Aug 2019, 06:47 by Ian Clarenbone

HOT tubs, spa baths and even garden hose pipes could harbour potentially lethal bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, a leading charity has warned.

The growing popularity for installing garden hot tubs poses a risk for the serious disease to be contracted in the summer months, with new advice issued on how to prevent the bacteria forming. The combination of warm weather and sitting water creates the perfect environment for Legionella bacteria to grow, according to a warning issued by the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE). Legionella is the cause of a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease, which is contracted by inhaling tiny water droplets.

Kevin Wellman, CEO the CIPHE, said, “While all man-made hot and cold water systems can provide an environment ripe for the Legionella bacteria to grow, it can thrive in places such as hot tubs, whirlpool baths, compost heaps and even garden hoses. The growing popularity in hot tubs and spa baths means that many families now have a potential source of an outbreak within their homes and gardens.”

Figures from Public Health England show a seasonal rise in cases from June to October. Crucially, last year saw a huge leap in Legionnaires cases, up from a yearly average of 500 to 814.

Mr Wellman added: It has become increasingly easy for families to purchase hot tubs and spa baths. “What people don’t realise is that these appliances need to be correctly installed and maintained, while also being regularly cleaned and chlorinated. Harmful Legionella bacteria can incubate in as little as 2-10 days, meaning that those who let their maintenance and disinfection regime slip, could be at risk. Additionally, there is no legislation covering domestic hot tub installations. With annual deaths caused by poor plumbing now outnumbering those caused by Carbon Monoxide poisoning, the general public need to be made aware of the dangers that poorly designed or maintained systems can bring.”

If you are considering installing a hot tub or spa bath, the CIPHE advises using a professional plumbing engineer for installation. The body also stresses the huge importance in following the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, disinfection and maintenance.

With yearly heating bills for some hot tubs hitting £600, people are being warned not to ‘cut corners and costs’ when it comes to the risk.

29 July 2019 Man tests positive for Legionnaires’ disease following dialysis at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital

posted 30 Jul 2019, 05:36 by Ian Clarenbone

Lawyers have been instructed to investigate after a man tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease following treatment at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

The patient started to develop symptoms in April, while an outpatient at the hospital’s Severn Unit. After his cough and general weakness turned into something more serious, he was admitted and tested positive for the disease.

Several months on and with some of the symptoms still persisting, the man who is in his seventies called on lawyers Irwin Mitchell to take on the case. The legal experts have in recent years represented a number of victims affected by major Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in both Edinburgh and Stoke-on-Trent. More recently, the team has been instructed by a number of individuals who have been affected by the Legionnaires’ outbreak relating to the Healax Salt Caves Spa in Bournemouth.

Jatinder Paul, the lawyer who is representing the individual affected who does not want to be named, said: “Through our work we have sadly seen on numerous occasions how Legionnaires’ disease can have a debilitating impact on those affected, often leaving them struggling with long-term health conditions. The first-hand account provided to us is very worrying and we have now commenced our own investigations into what our client faced. As part of our work, we would be keen to hear from anyone else who may have also been affected by similar issues.”

Mr Paul added: “It is of course a particular concern that this hospital has reportedly had issues related to Legionnaires’ disease in the past and that will be something that falls under the microscope during our own work. While we are determined to help our client gain answers, we are also committed to ensuring – where possible – lessons can be learned so that the issues seen in this case are not repeated again.”

A Trust spokesperson said: “The Trust is aware of a case of legionella infection in a patient who has received treatment at Severn Dialysis Unit. The patient could have acquired the infection at the Unit in April 2019.

“The patient has been treated and kept fully informed about the ongoing investigation and we have been working closely with colleagues from Public Health England. We would like to reassure our patients that we have thorough systems in place for maintaining water safety and quality.”    

23 July 2019 Family contract suspected Legionnaires’ disease after trip to Healax Salt Caves Spa

posted 23 Jul 2019, 07:01 by Ian Clarenbone

A Southampton family were left with difficulty breathing, fever and sickness after visiting a salt spa. The Southampton mother, 48, her two sons, 17 and 18, daughter, eight, and niece, 24, all fell ill after visiting Healax Salt Caves Spa in Bournemouth. The family day out became a nightmare when her niece and the children developed symptoms including fevers, hot and cold sweats, coughing, chest pain and headaches after contracting suspected Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever following a visit to the spa.

The mother began to feel unwell after visiting the spa, with a temperature of 40°C. Diarrhoea and abdominal pains were followed by lethargy and confusion. Her symptoms were so severe, that she was admitted to hospital via ambulance.

The Southampton family, along with other people from Bournemouth, have instructed specialist Public Health lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the circumstances of their illnesses. Irwin Mitchell have been instructed by a number of families suffering with symptoms after visiting the spa between June 11 to 15.

Speaking on behalf of her family, the Southampton mother said: “When I received the letter about the Public Health investigation I burst into tears. I took my children and niece somewhere nice as a treat, and this has happened. I feel as though I made my children sick by taking them there. It makes me feel dirty because we do not know what we have been exposed to. It broke my heart, hearing my children call out for me, when I was so physically weak, that I could not help them. I felt so guilty being in hospital knowing that they were at home, ill, and needing me.”

The spa is currently closed pending an investigation by Public Health England, with letters sent to those affected, asking them to follow the advice provided.

Other visitors to the spa are now being urged by Public Health England to come forward, due to concerns that some people may be suffering with illness but are unaware of the cause, or source of their symptoms.

Amandeep Dhillon, a partner and head of the specialist Public Health at Irwin Mitchell, said: “As part of our investigations, we are keen to hear from anyone who may have visited the spa this year and also have suffered from similar symptoms, as they may be able to help with our enquiries.”

15 July 2019 It'll save your life' - Doctor reveals why he runs shower for 20 minutes after holiday

posted 15 Jul 2019, 08:01 by Ian Clarenbone   [ updated 23 Jul 2019, 05:39 ]

Dr Tom Makin runs his shower for 20 minutes when he gets home to protect himself from deadly bacteria

Could this life hack save your life? 

What is the first thing you do when you get home after being on holiday? Put the kettle on? Put your feet up? Take a shower...

A microbiologist has recently shared his ritual when he returns home from being away and it might change your routine forever. Dr Tom Makin immediately runs his shower for 20 minutes without getting into it and, after it's turned off he doesn't go back in the bathroom for another 20 minutes. The process, he said is a measure to prevent the lethal bacteria causing life-threatening conditions. In the time a person is away on holiday, stagnant water in your shower head can turn toxic, he claims. This means people are at greater risk of inhaling bacteria called legionella.

Explaining in detail what he does when back from a break, he said: "I cover my nose and mouth with one hand and turn on the shower with the other. After 20 minutes or so, I’ll turn the shower off and then I won’t go back into the bathroom for at least another 20 minutes."

Going away in the Summer increases the risk posed by Legionella, as the bacteria thrives when the temperature is between 20C and 45C. Garden hoses and sprinkler systems are also risky.

The World Health Organisation says Legionella is on the rise, possibly because people are taking showers rather than baths. Legionella can cause pneumonia and organ failure, both of which can be fatal. An estimated 500 Brits contract Legionnaires' disease each year.

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