Warwick District Council is raising the awareness of Legionnaires’ disease following a confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease from the use of an irregularly used shower in a sports pavilion.
Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial infection characterised by an acute and potentially life threatening pneumonia. Legionella bacteria are widely distributed in the environment but the bacteria can also colonise water systems such as humidifiers, cooling towers and hot and cold water systems if the water system is inadequately managed.
All ages can be affected by the disease; although males over 50 years are more susceptible. Smokers, heavy drinkers and people with a compromised immune system are also at a higher risk. Symptoms of the disease include a ‘flu-like’ illness with a rapid onset fever, muscle aches, tiredness, headache, loss of appetite, breathlessness, chest pain and a dry cough leading to pneumonia. The illness progressively worsens over several days. Legionnaires’ disease is associated with a fatality rate of approximately 12%.
The risk of Legionnaire disease from a water system can be managed by removing any unused pipework which could allow water to stagnate within the water circulation system. Ensuring that showers and taps are regularly flushed and cleaned will remove biofilm, which supports the growth of the bacteria. Cold water storage tanks should be fitted with tight lids and circulating cold water should be below 20°C and hot water above 50°C.
A guidance leaflet has been developed and sent to all sports centres, pavilions and other venues with infrequently used hot and cold water systems within the district.