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The Dangers of Legionnaires' Disease

Did you know an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease could have serious consequences for your business and put the health and well-being of your clients at risk?

Legionella bacteria can cause ill-health and, sadly, loss of life. The threat is real and recently it was reported that a guest died after she contracted Legionnaires’ Disease following her stay at a hotel in Ludlow, Shropshire.  In the wake of an investigation, it was discovered that bacteria was found in the hotel’s water system.  Consequently, the premises were closed whilst the water system was disinfected and new plumbing installed, tested and approved.

Following this tragic news, it is crucial that hotels and guest houses are more aware of the risks and dangers of contaminated water systems and the devastating effects of Legionnaires’ disease.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

  • Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which is caused by the Legionella bacterium.
  • Symptoms include dry cough and fever, tiredness, headaches, muscle aches and diarrhoea or confusion. The disease can cause long term health problems and can be fatal. It cannot be transmitted from person to person.
  • The disease is contracted by inhaling small droplets of water, containing the bacteria, which are suspended in the air. Anyone can be infected, particularly individuals with an impaired immune system; those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease; smokers; heavy drinkers and people over the age of 45.
  • Legionella bacteria can be found in natural water sources, such as lakes, rivers and reservoirs, but they can also grow and contaminate purpose-built water systems.
  • The bacteria can be spread through showers, hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks and air-conditioning systems.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), any water system, with the right environmental conditions, could be a source for legionella bacteria growth.

What can you do to prevent an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in your hotel or workplace?

  • Assess the risk – carry out a legionella risk assessment and implement appropriate measures to control the bacteria.
  • Maintain the cleanliness of the water system. Clean and disinfect water filters on a regular basis.
  • Taps and shower heads must be kept spotlessly clean and scale-free.
  • Avoid water stagnation. Keep water hot and circulating; and run taps in rooms which are unoccupied.
  • Water storage tanks and pipes need to be inspected regularly.
  • High risk facilities, such as hot tubs, need to be treated with chlorine and disinfected frequently.

To avoid fines or prosecution for non-compliance and ultimately damage to your reputation, it is essential that you keep legionella bacteria tightly under control. More importantly, however, is the health and safety of your guests at all times.

Do you need help with ensuring your complying correctly? At Food Alert we take pride in working hand-in-hand with you to help achieve regulatory compliance as well as being there for you when you need us. For more information about how you can manage your health and safety, contact us at enquires@foodalert.com.

 

 

 

The information contained in this article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health & safety nor fire safety advice. 

Food Alert take no responsibility if the information in the article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Food Alert services please do call our team on 020 7244 1900 or email enquiries@foodalert.com