Deadly Legionnaires' bug is lurking at the CAR WASH. Two men became seriously ill with the disease after inhaling infected water droplets

posted 19 Feb 2018, 00:46 by Ian Clarenbone

Two men became seriously ill with Legionnaires' disease after inhaling infected water droplets from separate car washes in Italy, according to a study published in the journal Annals of Hygiene.

The incidents occurred in Italy, but could also take place in the UK,according to microbiologist Dr Tom Makin, a senior consultant at Legionella control.  He said: 'Legionella bacteria grow in large numbers in water systems that get warm and remain idle for extensive periods of time, such as drive-through car wash systems. Car washes are capable of generating the right sized aerosols that can be inhaled into the lungs where the Legionella bacteria cause infection, such as pneumonia. Some car washes have the additional problem of collecting wash water and recirculating it during further wash cycles. This can increase the amount of general debris and nutrients in the water which can help support the growth of bacteria.'  

And it is not just car-wash users who could be at risk. Dr Makin added: 'Aerosols generated by car washes can drift reasonable distances and if they are contaminated with Legionella they could be a source of infection to other people in the area.' 

Legionella bacteria thrive in warm, stagnant water, found at car washes. Most Legionnaires' disease sufferers become infected when they inhale tiny microscopic water droplets containing Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires' disease affects around 500 people a year in England alone and is fatal in approximately one in 10 cases.

17 January 2018 Broadways Nursing Home Larne: Legionella bacteria found in plumbing

posted 18 Jan 2018, 04:15 by Ian Clarenbone

A strain of Legionella bacteria has been found in the plumbing system of Broadways Nursing Home in Larne in November. The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) said, that while the bacteria is present, there has not been an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease. The entire water system at the home is being replaced to address the issue. The home said the issue would be resolved in the coming weeks.

Barbara Sloan of Broadway Nursing Home said the issue was discovered as part of routine assessments. "The pipe work is to be upgraded and while that work is being done, we have cut off some of the mains water supply within the home. The safety and comfort of our residents is of paramount importance and will continue to be so," she said.

The RQIA said use of some taps in the home have been withdrawn and others restricted as a precaution. Tap filters and bottled water have also been provided to residents. The regulatory body has also notified the Health and Safety Executive.

12 December 2017 Legionella bacteria found on lower school site of Royal Harbour Academy Ramsgate

posted 13 Dec 2017, 06:46 by Ian Clarenbone

Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires' disease, has been found in a secondary school water system in Ramsgate. The bacteria was found in a small area of the water system on the lower school site of Royal Harbour Academy on Newlands Lane.

Head teacher Simon Pullen said the bacteria was discovered during regular checks, and has since been dealt with.

He said: "Regular checks did pick up an element of it in one small area on the lower school. That was then isolated and has since been flushed through the system and we're confident it is now clear. They are now running further checks to ensure it is gone but we have kept that area isolated. No one is exposed to it as it is in one very small area which has been isolated."

The bacteria can be found in both potable and non potable water and can cause Legionnaires' disease - a severe and sometimes lethal form of pneumonia.

7 December 2017 Area of Lincoln prison isolated after suspected Legionnaires' disease death

posted 13 Dec 2017, 06:44 by Ian Clarenbone

Specialist teams have descended on HMP Lincoln after a man died from a possible case of Legionnaires' disease. Graham Butterworth, 71, died at the Greetwell Road jail on Monday, December 5.

And now the prison, which has capacity for up to 738 inmates, has isolated shower areas on one wing to investigate the possible case of the deadly disease. The prison are treating it as an isolated case and no other prisoners or members of staff have shown symptoms at this stage.

A spokesperson for the MOJ said: "HMP Lincoln prisoner Graham Butterworth died in custody on December 5, 2017. As with all deaths in custody there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.”

The prison are now investigating the man's death with Public Health Lincoln and other health organisations.  A spokesperson for Public Health England said: "Public Health England along with HMP Lincoln, the Ministry of Justice and other health partners are investigating a possible case of Legionnaires' disease in an inmate at HMP Lincoln. Sadly the individual has died and our thoughts are with their family at this time. Further testing is being carried out to confirm Legionnaires disease and precautionary measures have been taken within the prison to isolate shower areas on one wing and water samples have been sent for testing."

21 November 2017 Dudley engineering firm fined for Legionella risk

posted 22 Nov 2017, 06:32 by Ian Clarenbone

A DUDLEY engineering firm has been fined £10,000 after it failed to prevent the risk of exposure to dangerous bacteria in a tunnel wash at its powder coating plant.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that De-Met Colourcoat Limited, based at Grazebrook Industrial Park, Peartree Lane, had no controls in place to manage the risk of Legionella bacteria in the water system.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching two sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court and was ordered to pay costs of £5,067.68 in addition to the fine.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Cooper, said: “This was a case where the company failed to have any controls whatsoever for the management of Legionella at the powder coating plant. Without identifying and putting in place suitable control measures there is a real risk of Legionnaires’ disease from tunnel washers. It is therefore of the upmost importance to control these risks by introducing appropriate measures."

A spokesman for De-Met Colourcoat Ltd said: “Whilst the company respects the decision of the court and fully recognises its culpability in not having the required risk assessment paperwork in place, we remain proud of the high standards of operational health and safety we maintain at the business. Tests for the presence of Legionella before and since the breach have proven negative and at no stage was there any evidence that Legionella was present in the tunnel wash. Since the breach we have comprehensively reviewed health and safety policies and management continues to work hard to keep our employees safe at work.”

21 November 2017 Three Queens Hotel Burton remains partially closed after two former guests contracted Legionnaires' disease

posted 22 Nov 2017, 06:20 by Ian Clarenbone

The Queens Hotel remains only partially open after two people who had stayed at the hotel were later diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.

The Three Queens Hotel and Lodge, in Bridge Street, was temporarily closed on October 6 on the advice of health professionals from Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands, East Staffordshire Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council. The move followed lab tests showing Legionella pneumophila bacteria present in water samples taken from hotel plumbing, and two separate, confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease in former hotel guests.


Dr Musarrat Afza, consultant with PHE West Midlands Health Protection Team, said: "Isolated cases of Legionella infection are reported to us on a regular basis and investigated as a matter of routine. Following the second case of confirmed Legionnaires' disease with a link to the hotel, we liaised with colleagues in the local Environmental Health team to carry out testing of water systems at the hotel and on discovering Legionella, management implemented public health advice to minimise exposure to guests and staff, and closed areas where the bacteria had been detected immediately, and soon after the decision was made to close the hotel completely to allow a full assessment of the water systems and remedial work. Members of the Environmental Health team have been testing throughout the process to assess when the various hotel buildings could reopen."

Two people, who had stayed at the hotel earlier this year, were diagnosed with Legionnaires ‘ disease. The first person was from Nottingham and was diagnosed in January. The second, from Bridlington, Yorkshire, was diagnosed in September and was seriously ill as a result. She was found to have double pneumonia and spent three weeks in hospital hooked up to a drip and on constant oxygen. When she returned home she was still bed-bound and struggling to breathe.

Malcolm Novell, general manager of The Three Queens Hotel and Lodge, said: "The health and wellbeing of our guests and staff members is of the utmost importance, so we have been working closely with public health professionals from East Staffordshire Borough Council and Public Health England and taking remedial action. Once work on our water systems is complete and satisfactory test results have been received from health professionals, we will reopen fully to the public."


On temporary closure of the hotel, management contacted guests to explain the situation, and notified people who had stayed at the hotel two weeks prior to closure to advise them to make contact if they experienced any symptoms of Legionnaires' disease. 

31 October 2017 Holidaymakers struck down by Legionnaires’ disease in Palmanova Majorca

posted 1 Nov 2017, 06:43 by Ian Clarenbone

Holidaymakers coming home from Majorca have been warned to look out for the symptoms of a serious lung infection. At least 18 British travellers have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease after returning from the western coast of the Spanish island this summer.

The first and most common symptoms may only appear weeks later and include headaches, muscle pain, fever, chills, tiredness and confusion. But in rare cases the illness can prove fatal in otherwise healthy people, leading to organs failing to work properly or septic shock. Most people who came down with the disease in 2015 needed hospital treatment.

Public Health England (PHE) has noted a spike in cases among Britains who stayed in a town popular with tourists called Palmanova. Anyone can be affected, but people aged 50 and over, smokers, heavy drinkers and anyone with an underlying medical conditions or weakened immune system is at increased risk.

Sufferers catch the infection by breathing in contaminated water, which can be spread through air conditioning. Large buildings such as hotels, hospitals, museums and hospitals are particularly vulnerable to being contaminated. There is no vaccine against the infection, but it can be fairly easily treated through antibiotics and around 90% make a full recovery after a few weeks.

Dr Gavin Dabrera, head of PHE’s Legionella and flu response team, said: “Since September, 18 British travellers who stayed in Palmanova have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease; those affected travelled to Palmanova from different parts of the UK.”

Nick Phin, Deputy Director at PHE added: “The source is under investigation and the Spanish authorities are leading the response to this outbreak. We are advising people who have travelled or are planning to travel to Palmanova in Majorca to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, which are initially flu-like. If you do experience symptoms, speak to your GP as soon as possible and inform them of your travel.”

14 September 2017 Woman dies following Legionnaires’ outbreak at Feathers Hotel Ludlow

posted 15 Sep 2017, 08:08 by Ian Clarenbone

A woman has died and another has fallen ill, following an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Feathers Hotel in Ludlow, Shropshire. The hotel has closed temporarily after taking advice from Public Health England (PHE) in the West Midlands and Shropshire Council. Laboratory tests from the hotel showed links between the Legionella bacteria found in the water samples and the two guests who stayed there.


The first guest, a woman in her 70s, was diagnosed in April this year and has since recovered.

The second guest, a woman in her 60s who stayed at the hotel in July, is understood to have died mid-August. Both guests were from Merseyside.

The hotel is currently writing to guests who have stayed in the last two weeks to contact them if they have experienced any symptoms of the disease.

Dr David Kirrage, consultant with PHE West Midlands Health Protection Team, stated that as soon as the Legionella bacteria was identified, the hotel’s affected rooms were closed and the water system disinfected. He said “Results from PHE laboratories on Monday 11 September 2017 confirmed that the strain of Legionella located in the hotel is indistinguishable from the samples taken from the two cases. Extensive work is now needed to overhaul and treat the plumbing in such an old building, so that guests can fully enjoy the facilities.”

The hotel will remain closed as work is carried out.

15 September 2017 Manchester Ship Canal Boats Floating Health Hazards States New Report

posted 15 Sep 2017, 08:06 by Ian Clarenbone

77% of ship samples found Legionella; 93% high levels of bacteria: 45% of drinking water samples unsatisfactory.

A new report from Manchester Port Health Authority reveals that 77% of samples taken from inspections of non-passenger vessels on the Manchester Ship Canal found Legionella bacteria, the cause of Legionnaires‘ disease. Meanwhile, 93% of ships sampled were found to have high levels of bacteria, and 45% of drinking water samples tested for bacteria, including e-coli, were also deemed unsatisfactory. The report is to be presented at a full meeting of Salford City Council next week.

Ships visiting the Manchester Ship Canal and going through Salford are floating germ hazards, according to a new report by Manchester Port Health Authority (MPHA). During the period May to July this year 284 non-passenger ships arrived on the Canal and 131 were inspected and tested for sanitation by MPHA officers. Two of the ships were deemed to have "extremely poor standards on board, requiring significant improvement", and 47 ships "required further action to be taken in order to meet the required standard".

165 Legionella samples were taken from 57 ships, and 77% of the samples were "unsatisfactory due to the presence of Legionella bacteria and required a full system review", the report states. Legionella bacteria, it adds, "are the cause of Legionellosis including Legionnaires' disease which can be fatal". After galley hygiene swabs were taken, 43 out of 46 ships sampled, or 93%, were "unsatisfactory due to the presence of high levels of bacteria", and 45% of drinking water samples (59 samples from 29 ships) were deemed "unsatisfactory" following tests for Coliforms, Enterococci and e-coli, along with an aerobic colony count.

A UK wide study on the High Prevalence of Legionella In Non-Passenger Merchant Vessels (NPMV) and published by Cambridge University Press, with the Salford data included, found that "Vessels were frequently positive and a large proportion of results were greater than the UK upper action limit. "SBT [Sequence-based typing] indicated that some NPMVs were contaminated with L. pneumophila sg1 STs previously associated with human disease" it added "This presents a risk of infection to merchant seafarers and raises significant concerns about the management of Legionella on board NPMVs."

The report is due to be 'noted' by councillors at next week's full meeting of Salford City Council.

31 July 2017 Why that nasty cold you picked up on your last holiday could be MUCH worse than you think

posted 1 Aug 2017, 08:09 by Ian Clarenbone

Frail and suffering from various health problems, 79-year-old William Hammersley's DIY days were behind him. But when his son Des, 53, arranged a trip to a home-improvements superstore, the grandfather-of-two from Chesterton, Staffordshire, was delighted. 'Dad loved DIY,' recalls Des, a plumber. 'So I took him to the nearby JTF Warehouse.' It was a fatal decision. William fell victim to Legionnaires' disease. A poorly maintained hot tub on display infected 21 people, killing three, including William. He died in North Staffordshire Hospital in August 2012. Among the survivors were William's wife Clarissa, 82, and Des's partner Claire, who was left with a damaged lung. This month, the company responsible for the outbreak was fined £1 million. During the court case, Clarissa suffered a stroke. As Des told Good Health: 'This has been a complete tragedy for the whole family.'

It's a heartbreak that affects hundreds of families in the UK every year. Official statistics put the number affected by Legionnaires' disease in England and Wales at over 550 a year. But some experts believe the true figure is as high as 9,000.

There are also concerns that the number affected on holiday abroad is rising, with tourists being warned to be particularly wary of hotels and villas in hot climates that have lain empty for months over winter.

And yet the disease is entirely preventable — so why are people still dying from it?

Legionnaires' is a nasty form of pneumonia, caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, that kills about one in ten of its victims by causing rapid lung failure and depriving organs of oxygen. In its early stages, it is easily mistaken for flu. Even if pneumonia is diagnosed, if Legionella isn't recognised as the culprit the wrong antibiotics may be given. Legionella occurs naturally in ponds, lakes, rivers and reservoirs. There, it's harmless. Swallowing infected water is very unlikely to cause an infection, since concentrations are too low and the bug has to be breathed into the lungs. The problem is when Legionella finds its way into man-made water systems, where conditions can be ideal for it to breed. It feeds on nutrients including rust and scale and thrives in temperatures between 20c and 45c.

In poorly maintained equipment such as air-conditioning cooling towers, spa pools and showers, infected water can be 'aerosolised', converted into a fine spray that's easily breathed in. Without prompt treatment, Legionella breeds rapidly in the lungs — but with early symptoms of headache, muscle pain and a temperature of 38c or above, the disease can easily pass for flu. But as the bacteria start to multiply (incubation takes between two and ten days), the tiny air sacs in the lungs become inflamed and fill with fluid. At first, this causes a persistent dry cough, but as the condition worsens, those affected start to produce phlegm and experience increasing shortness of breath.

‘Anyone with these symptoms should seek help, especially if they've been abroad’, says Richard Russell, a consultant respiratory specialist at Lymington New Forest Hospital and adviser for the British Lung Foundation.

'Giving your doctor a history of foreign travel will make the penny drop quicker,' he says. Some people are more vulnerable than others. Most cases of Legionnaires' disease are among the over-50s, with the majority aged 70 or more. People who smoke, drink heavily, have an existing lung condition or are generally in poor health should 'consider avoiding water systems that could be contaminated, such as spas', says NHS England.

Figures show cases in England and Wales have been steadily increasing for the past four years. But, shockingly, one expert says the official figures might be way off the mark. 'It's possible that the number is closer to 9,000 a year and that the number of deaths could realistically be more like 900,' says Debbie Green, operations director at Nemco Utilities, a buildings risk management consultancy specialising in Legionella control. This is based partly on European research suggesting that up to three per cent of the 300,000 infections diagnosed as pneumonia in the UK are in fact Legionnaires' disease. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) insists regulations regarding Legionnaires’ in the UK are strict. These involve regular treatment of water storage containers with chemicals and, crucially, keeping water at the correct temperatures. Under UK regulations, cold water must be stored below 20c.

The bug is extremely rare in the home because domestic water systems are fed directly from clean mains supplies and daily water usage is sufficient to 'turn over' the entire system. So why are there still so many cases in the UK? Debbie Green fears some organisations may be cutting corners. 'It's possible that insufficient funding, particularly in the public sector, has a part to play,' she told Good Health.

Statistics from the HSE show that poorly maintained hot and cold-water systems cause a quarter of the cases, followed by cooling towers (16 per cent) and spa pools (14 per cent). In the case of the JTF Warehouse outbreak, there had been a 'misguided assumption' that JTF could manage the risk without spending on specialist consultants, said the crown court judge.

Another concern is that the number of Britons infected abroad has increased, rising more than 65 per cent from 2013, to 146 cases. Spain, where 26 Britons contracted the disease in 2015, heads a top ten of at-risk destinations for Legionnaires issued by Public Health England, followed by Italy (21 cases) and Greece (17).

A growing threat is in the increasingly popular destination of Dubai. With over 10.8 million visits from UK tourists in 2015, the chance of catching the disease in Spain is 2.8 in a million. The risk in Dubai is far greater, 41 in a million — almost on a par with Thailand, says PHE.

Tourists should be wary of hotels and villas in hot climates that have lain empty for months over winter, warns Nick Harris, former head of international holiday and travel law at solicitors Simpson Millar. 'The Greek islands are a classic example. At the beginning of the holiday season, there will be a spike in legionella claims, and a lot of that is because the hotels close down over winter.'

There is little really that tourists can do apart from being aware of the symptoms, says Simon Dooner of risk-management company Legionella Control International. 'I know of people who will run showers in their holiday villas before they will use them. While it can't do any harm, in the end you have to trust that the people operating the systems are taking the correct precautions.' He says in hotter countries 'the authorities allow cold water to be stored at 25c'. So 'unless you are treating the water chemically, you've got conditions conducive to the growth of the bacteria'.

Kevin Dick, a 54-year-old sales manager from Inverness, caught Legionnaires on holiday in Thailand with his wife Linda in May. He started to feel ill shortly before landing at Heathrow. 'It felt like flu,' he says. 'I was sweating; hot and cold. I assumed I'd picked up a bug on the plane.' After trying for three days to fight what he thought was the flu with Lemsip, his temperature hit 41c. Rushed to Raigmore Hospital, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and put on antibiotics: the diagnosis of Legionnaires wasn't made until a week later. In all, he would be off work for nine weeks. 'It was only later when I read up about it that I realised what a lucky escape I'd had,' says Mr Dick.

So how can you tell if it might be Legionnaires or 'just' flu? Professor Mark Britton of the British Lung Foundation explains that early symptoms such as muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, a dry cough and sudden high fever are 'very similar to flu, but usually more severe and more acute in onset'. 

'If you experience a sudden high temperature, shivering, and a loss of alertness, together with some of the above symptoms and may have been exposed to water droplets such as at a spa, urgently seek medical advice.' 

1-10 of 59