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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8 July 2019 Legionella at The Bridge Secondary School London

posted 9 Jul 2019, 05:59 by Ian Clarenbone

The Health and Safety Executive inspected The Bridge Secondary School due to "concerns about the management and treatment of Legionella bacteria risk" - but inspectors are now satisfied its being dealt with.

 

Last month Legionella bacteria had been found in parts of the water supply at the school in Carleton Road, as well as a sports centre used by Beacon High Secondary School and at The Zone Youth Club. As a precaution, all showers at the venues have since been closed - and there have been no reports of Legionnaires Disease.

A Health and Safety Executive spokesperson said: "Following an inspection by HSE, immediate measures were taken by the school to isolate the potentially at risk parts of its hot and cold water system. Remedial works, a chlorination of the water system and a resampling was undertaken by the schools water treatment company. The school will not reactivate its hot and cold water system until assurance is achieved that Legionella bacteria are at tolerable levels. Water outlets served by mains water are unaffected. No further investigation is planned."

The "hot and cold" facilities serve The Bridge Secondary School - part of a multi-academy trust - and its swimming pool facilities, as well as the sports centre and youth club. But drinking fountains in the schools and the swimming pool itself are served by mains water.

The Bridge London Trust's chief executive Dr Penny Barratt has previously said "there is no need for alarm" and that "expert advice indicates that the buildings are safe to remain open and activities within them can continue as normal."

It is reported that Legionella readings in the water have already been significantly reduced, and that results of a second wave of treatment are due this week.

Beacon High's Executive Head Jo Dibb said: "There is no connection between the water supply in the facilities and the water supply at Beacon High. We will not be using the facilities until the problem has been resolved."

5 July 2019 Health officials declare Legionnaires' outbreak at London's Dolphin Square

posted 8 Jul 2019, 01:03 by Ian Clarenbone

An outbreak of potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease at Dolphin Square has been declared by health chiefs after a third person fell ill at the famed apartment blocks.

Public Health England confirmed it was investigating a spate of cases of the lung infection at the Pimlico residences linked to bacteria in the water system.

The most recent victim, Nick Russell, had been staying at his mother’s apartment while attending his father’s funeral. He spent several days in intensive care last month after developing pneumonia. He only went to A&E in Exeter after his mother raised concerns that he could have contracted the infection from breathing infected water spores from her shower.

Mr Russell, 57, a theme park ride designer from Somerset, said: “It was the most mind-blowing headache and flu-like symptoms. Very reluctantly I was frogmarched down to A&E - I really didn’t want to go there at all. I just wanted to quietly curl up and die. They were nervous that I might have something contagious, so they all had their masks on. It was a little bit freaky, but I was more disturbed by the side-effects of the antibiotics. I was told about the symptoms including seizures, the electrical pattern in your heart changing and tendon damage in my wrists and ankles that could potentially cripple you for life. But the NHS were fantastic and were by all account’s lifesaving. I was as weak as a kitten struggling to move and just lying in a crumpled heap in bed. If I hadn’t had gone down when I had there was every chance, I would have had pneumonia in both lungs rather than one.” He added: “I was only in London to say goodbye to my father, but it was touch-and-go that my family would be saying goodbye to me as well.”

 

Mr Russell had been staying in Hawkins House. It shares a roof-top water tank with Nelson House, where the second victim, also a visitor to Dolphin Square, was found. The first case is thought to have been in Beatty House or Duncan House. The second victim collapsed in the apartment in June and was only discovered by chance. He is understood to have spent weeks in hospital receiving treatment.

The Health and Safety Executive said it was deciding whether to launch an investigation. 

There are about 1,200 flats in Dolphin Square’s 12 blocks. Taps and radiators are being replaced. Residents are being asked to run their taps and showers but “leave the room” while this is being done. One resident said: “Stable doors and horses come to mind. There should not have been a second case and there definitely should not have been a third.”

Dr Yimmy Chow, from Public Health England, said: ““Residents are advised to look out for signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, including a flu-like illness with muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, dry cough and fever, and call NHS 111 or their GP for medical advice.”

Dolphin Square said in a statement: “Water at the estate is monitored, tested and treated in accordance with all applicable national regulations and guidelines. We are also undertaking an estate-wide review of water installations in tenants’ flats, and reminding our tenants of the need to regularly descale their taps and showers. The health and welfare of everyone who lives and visits Dolphin Square is central to all that we do.”

 

6 July 2019 Bournemouth health spa probed after Legionella outbreak

posted 8 Jul 2019, 00:36 by Ian Clarenbone

A health spa is the "likely source" of an outbreak of Legionella infection which has left nine people in hospital, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

Fourteen people who attended Healax Salt Caves in Bournemouth in June have contracted either Legionnaire's Disease or the less serious Pontiac fever. A further 39 people who reported symptoms have not had infections confirmed by laboratory tests. The nine worst-affected patients are now recovering at home.

Wendy Brimicombe, 63, said she and a friend both contracted Pontiac fever after visiting the spa on 10 June. "When I got home, I had a headache, was sick and felt like my chest was being crushed," she said. Ms Brimicombe said she slept for more than 24 hours, not realising that she had missed work. "I live alone. It's really frightened me," she said.

PHE England said it had given health advice to other customers and to local residents. Dr Fiona Neeley from PHE said: "We understand that there will be concern among people who visited Healax Salt Caves and spa. "Thankfully, in all cases of illness that have been reported to Public Health England to date, those affected are now recovering from their illness. "There are no ongoing risks to health for the wider population in relation to this incident." She said the business owner and health officials had "acted quickly" to ensure that any further risk was controlled. The affected customers visited the spa between 1 June and 18 June, PHE said.

The business in Kinson Road has been closed until further notice, its Facebook site said. A repossession notice has been posted on the door.

Therapies offered at the centre include a salt water hot tub and a "salt cave" with a salt-covered floor and walls made from salt blocks.

23 June 2019 Increase in Number of Cases of Legionnaires' Disease in Vale of Glamorgan

posted 24 Jun 2019, 05:38 by Ian Clarenbone

Public Health Wales said it has been investigating a 'higher than usual' number of cases of Legionnaires' disease in the Vale of Glamorgan over the past 10 months.

Legionnaires' disease is a lung infection that can be life-threatening. It cannot be passed from person to person but can be caught from inhaling water droplets containing bacteria. It often begins with flu-like symptoms and can lead to pneumonia.

 Dr Gwen Lowe, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health Wales said: “Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease notified to us are sporadic cases, but unexplained clustering does occur from time to time... The results of samples we have received so far are different, suggesting the typed cases are not linked.

On average, there are around 30 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Wales each year. These are usually spread throughout Wales. This year there have been 10 cases of Legionella across Wales to date, two of which have been in the Vale of Glamorgan. In 2018, there were seven cases in this area.

We are closely monitoring this situation, continue to investigate cases, and will keep the status of this incident under review”.

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.”

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