The BBC reported that a £1,000-a-week care home was caught amidst a healthcare crisis when a resident contracted a case of Legionnaires disease which ultimately lead to his untimely passing. One of the UK’s leading healthcare bodies Bupa, has consequently been fined £3m from not carrying out adequate legionella risk control.
What is Legionella?
Legionella is a type of bacteria commonly found in water systems which can lead to a respiratory disease called Legionellosis – a collective term for diseases caused by legionella bacteria. In severe cases, it can cause Legionnaire’s disease, a form of pneumonia which if left untreated can become fatal. Contracting the disease does increase with age but heavy drinkers, smokers, those suffering with respiratory issues, and anyone with a damaged immune system are also susceptible.
Bupa Care Homes (BNH) Ltd consequently acknowledged and pleaded guilty that they had breached the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Upon inspecting the man’s bathroom, Ipswich Crown Court were informed that there was a high concentration of Legionella bacteria found in the samples taken from the tap water.
Soon after, he was diagnosed with a lung infection, which then lead to his untimely passing.
Doctors found that Legionnaire’s disease was the sole cause of his death.
How does Legionella Form?
The bacteria itself can be found in natural water systems such as ponds and rivers. However, for Legionella to become a threat to us, it has to be thriving in the right conditions. Natural water sources rarely harbour these conditions, but in-house large-scale water systems provide the perfect platform for bacteria to grow and multiply. This is when it becomes a threat.
How do you Prevent Legionella?
The key to preventing Legionnaire’s disease is to ensure that any large-scale water systems are properly checked and maintained. This can be done by employing a company that specialise in Legionella control to take carry out a Legionella risk assessment.
Legionella thrives in warm water, so any warm water systems and even hot tubs need to be checked to ensure that they aren’t thriving grounds for Legionella. For more information on how you can ensure that your water systems are running effectively and safely, call AMES Group today.
How do People Contract It?
It’s important to understand that Legionella is not spread from one person to another. As it’s naturally found in water sources that are not properly maintained, people who come into contact with infected water are at a risk. You can contract the disease by simply breathing in the mist from hot tubs, swimming pools, baths or any water source that has birthed the bacteria.
What are the Symptoms of Legionella?
The symptoms of Legionella harbour similar symptoms to those suffering with respiratory issues. High fever, coughing, sweats and chills and occasionally numb muscle aches and headaches can occur. In most cases, in order to identify if you have pneumonia or Legionnaire’s disease, a chest x-ray will be required.
If you are a smoker, older than 50 or suffer with respiratory problems such as lung or heart disease then you are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Those who do not fall under the aforementioned categories who come into contact with the bacteria are less likely to fall ill.
Legionnaire’s disease is a potentially fatal disease if it is not caught and treated appropriately. Legionella can be life-threatening, and it is essential that you take the necessary checks to ensure your water systems are healthy and running clean.