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Date Added: 04/06/2017
Group: Legionella
By: Alan Greaves
Deadly Legionnaires bug is lurking in 1.5 million British homes

Article taken from The Daily Mail Online 04/06/2017 - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/~/article-4569428/index.html 

Researchers warn killer disease is on the rise - and showers could be to blame

  • Households could be harbouring the potentially fatal legionella organism.
  • Bug causes legionnaire’s disease, can lead to pneumonia and organ failure.
  • Sufferers are infected when they inhale tiny airborne droplets of ridden water.

Showers in homes across Britain are contaminated with a deadly bug that kills dozens of people a year, Government experts warn.
Research reveals up to 1.5 million households in the UK could be harbouring the potentially fatal legionella organism. The bug causes legionnaire’s disease, which can lead to life-threatening pneumonia and organ failure.
 
Sufferers are infected when they inhale tiny airborne droplets of bacteria-ridden water.
The deadly disease is usually linked with large buildings – such as hotels and office blocks – with complex water systems where the bacteria can spread easily.
 
But scientists at Public Health England (PHE) have found that the killer organism is on the increase in domestic homes. Experts fear household showers may be to blame for hundreds of cases each year where the source of infection cannot be identified.
 
The bug thrives in stagnant water above 20C. Showers, taps and wash basins can become contaminated if they are not used for a few days. Even garden hosepipes can harbour the bug if they are left filled with cold water that heats up to the right temperature in the sun.
 
Legionnaire’s disease strikes about 500 people a year in England, killing around one in ten. A 2012 outbreak in Edinburgh resulted in four deaths and nearly 100 people being treated.

Infection rates are rising across the world as more people take showers rather than baths. The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says cases have hit record levels on the continent.
 
Initial symptoms include fever, loss of appetite and headache. But within ten days, sufferers can develop life-threatening pneumonia and kidney failure.
 
Survivors often have to take antibiotics for months to try to clear the bug from their systems.
 
PHE infection experts took samples from 99 showers in 82 properties in Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Portsmouth, Southampton and Salisbury. Water was extracted from shower heads left idle for a few hours and swabs were taken from bathroom pipes.

Legionnaire’s disease strikes about 500 people a year in England, killing around one in ten

The results, published in the International Journal Of Hygiene And Environmental Health, revealed that nearly a third of samples tested positive for legionella. Researchers said six per cent of properties had dangerously high levels of the bug – the equivalent to 1.5 million households in the UK.
Three samples included a virulent new strain of the bug not seen before in the UK.
The researchers warned: ‘This study is the first to investigate the prevalence of legionella in UK household showers. It shows they may be important reservoirs.’
They warned that electric showers – originally thought to be safer because they heat water directly from the mains rather than from a tank – are just as dangerous, with similar contamination rates.

Scientists urged the public to use showers as often as possible to prevent water stagnating, and to clean shower heads regularly.
Microbiologist Dr Tom Makin urged homeowners returning from holiday to ‘flush out’ showers for several minutes. He added: ‘Hold your breath, turn the shower on and leave the bathroom. And don’t go back in for a while as contaminated droplets can remain airborne for up to 30 minutes.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4569428/Deadly-Legionnaires-bug-lurking-1-5m-British-homes.html#ixzz4jF1nRHL7 
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Date Added: 17/10/2015
Group: Legionella
By: Graham Thompson
Legionellosis reported to the National Surveillance Scheme for Legionnaires’ disease in residents of England and Wales with onset of symptoms in 2014

This report from Public Health England evaluates and summarises data analysed from cases of Legionellosis reported to the National Surveillance Scheme for Legionnaires’ disease in residents of England and Wales with onset of symptoms in 2014.

Graph Legionnaires’ disease in residents of England and Wales 2014


For the full report - Click here

Date Added: 20/05/2015
Group: Legionella
By: Graham Thompson
Brief highlights of the HSE Report on Legionella Intervention Programme 2013-2014

 Of the 5000 sites in GB notified to LAs under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992, only about half were initially allocated for visits. Before any site visits took place, there was considerable effort to cleanse the data. Sites were removed for several reasons:  

  • sites no longer had cooling towers (or they had been replaced with a dry cooling system);

  • sites had changed use /companies had gone out of business; or

  • for operational reasons a visit was inappropriate (eg. a recent inspection, such as in preparation for the 2012 Olympics or an on-going investigation/prosecution).

 

Note I think this would exclude all cooling towers in Corporation of London & Westminster as well as the more obvious Boroughs local to the Olympics).  

 

HSE, LAs or ONR considered some 2,500 sites where evaporative condensers or cooling towers were known or thought to be present.

HSE identified material breaches at ~ 33% of sites, meaning that at these sites at least written advice was needed to secure adequate levels of compliance.

HSE served 400 Improvement and 11 Prohibition Notices on the control of legionella risk at 229 different sites. A further 100 Improvement Notices and 8 Prohibition Notices were served on ancillary issues with a possible impact on legionella control, including work at height eg. to maintain drift eliminators.

LA inspectors sent a letter or served a notice at 21% of LA sites. LAs issued Improvement Notices at 9 sites and sent letters to a further 112.

There has been one successful proactive prosecution, Pride Cleaners (2000) Limited, of Dudley Road, Stourbridge, which has ceased trading, pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £100 and ordered to pay £50 costs

Notifications of Contraventions were issued against a number of service providers (water treatment companies outside the scope of this programme). It is reasonable to expect this also to have a gearing effect, with the learning being shared across company regions and with other clients.

Future work

Water Safety Plans and Water Safety Groups (see paragraph 9) represent a holistic approach to managing the risks from HCWS in health care and social care premises, and we plan to explore the potential for collaborative work in this area especially with the LCA, PHE and others. Later, it might also be appropriate to consider auditing standards of compliance eg. in NHS trusts.

Date Added: 04/08/2014
Group: Legionella
By: Alan Greaves
Landlords, Legionella, Letting & Legislation

Top tips from Alan Greaves of L8MS, who was one of a number of industry professionals recently involved with the HSE in the re-write of guidance on Legionella, hot & cold water systems.

What happened to cause the current attention?
The Approved Code of Practice for the control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems (ACoP L8) was re-published in November 2013. Revised guidance for hot and cold water systems (HSG274 part 2 - http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg274part2.pdf ) was issued early in 2014.

Has anything really changed?
Actually very little in 2003 the HSE released INDG376 Legionnaires Disease. Essential Information for Providers of Residential Accommodation which suggested “landlords in the private renting sector” need to comply with ACoP L8. However the inclusion of specific paragraphs on the responsibilities of Landlords who provide residential accommodation and Legionella control in HSG 274 part 2 has highlighted the need for risk assessments. 

Must I do these assessments?
This is a difficult question but what we can be sure about is that if you don’t have a Legionella risk assessment and anything goes wrong then the ACoP (and need for assessment) may well be used against you in court.

Who can do these water risk assessment?
Legionella risk assessments need to be completed by someone who is competent. There is no regulating body or defined certificate. In theory then anyone could offer the service, look for individuals who can offer evidence of training, for example QCF Level 2 Award in Legionella awareness as a minimum.

How much will they cost?
Costs will vary greatly depending on region and the number of properties being assessed. For simple properties it may prove cost effective for letting agents approved engineers, looking after gas appliances, to get themselves trained up so that they can assess for Legionella.

What should the assessment include?
In complex buildings Legionella risk assessments are well established, the on-going works can be quite significant and demanding. It is important in simple residential properties that the reports are ‘proportional’ to the risk and scaled down, they should: -
• Refer to control measures that the landlord should have in place.
• Provide safe operating guidance for the tenant.
• Provide a simple but accurate schematic drawing of the water system
• Define any remedial works required, with a priority rating
• Consider likely abnormal conditions, such as the property being unoccupied.

Common mistakes
Companies could try to recover cheap assessment costs with any required remedial costs, make sure any corrective works are correctly priced.
If you look after a number of properties then it is useful to define the risk assessment survey & report format at the start and for all properties and assessors. The common system makes things much easier to understand and act on in the future.
“Got a question then send it to alan@l8ms.co.uk”.

Date Added: 07/04/2014
Group: Legionella
By: Graham Thompson
HSE HSG274 Part 2 Released

HSE HSG274 - The control of legionella bacteria in hot and cold water

Systems

 

This document has now been released http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg274.htm