Up to 8000 students may have been exposed to legionella risk in Holland whilst taking part in a high profile annual relay race, the University of Twente has revealed. The University organises the 185km relay race each year. Since its origins in 1972 the race has grown from 600 enthusiastic participants to the 8000 who ran this year. Some students travel from all over the world to take part, following the route the Batavians originally followed down the Rhine to Rotterdam.
The race was previously blighted by an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 leading to its cancellation.
The latest scare provides serious concerns for students safety after the race was completed two weeks ago, in late April.
News that up to 8000 students could have been contaminated with the Legionella bacteria, which can lead to Legionnaires’ disease is a worrying turn of events.
The source of the contamination has been traced back to a sports complex where the participants showered. This has led to the complex being closed and 100 shower heads have had to be replaced. In addition to this pipes are to be cleaned and an ongoing investigation is taking place. This has alarmed those responsible for the sports complex (the executive board at the University of Twente) as the entire shower system had already been replaced twice before as a result of previous findings of legionella bacteria.
This recent report brings home the importance of vigilance in sports changing and shower blocks, as well as any other buildings or facilities where water could become an aerosol. In the case of the University of Twente sports complex, reports suggest the pipes were flushed every week.
The sports complex is situated in Enschede. In line with the advice of doctors, any students who have used this shower facility (perhaps you travelled to take part in the ‘Batavierenrace’) and show flu symptoms should seek medical advice from their doctor, explaining that this concern over legionella has arisen.