Legionella outbreak: What happens next?

News that Legionella bacteria has been discovered at a Stoke elder care village will result in a comprehensive review of water safety management, according to experts.
Legionella has been discovered at West End Village, Stoke, and the attached offices of Staffordshire Housing Association.
Elizabeth Froggatt, pictured, who runs SAS Water Ltd one of the country’s leading Legionnaire Disease consultancies, based in nearby Leek, says that the outbreak serves as a reminder of the need to monitor water safety. She stressed that SAS Water Ltd has no involvement with the West End Village but works with businesses, hotels, factories and leisure centres across the UK.
“The public may not realise that Legionnella is a constant risk and needs to be carefully monitored,” said Elizabeth. “The bacteria occurs naturally in stagnant water but the risks come from man-made water storage facilities, cooling towers, any wet facilities and in spa pools and hot tubs”
“While I have no knowledge of the current case, what will happen now is stipulated in Health and Safety regulations. A review of the Legionella Risk Assessment will be required as the current Management regime needs to be reviewed following all positive Legionella results. As recommended in the ACoP L8, HSG274 guidance. The site also has a hydro pool which will require a Risk Assessment, if not already in place, to meet the new guidance from the HSG282.

“The site will need to put in place a strict monitoring regime and re-sample for Legionella to ensure the new measures in place have been effective.”

Elizabeth added: “Latest Government data shows 448 cases of potentially fatal Legionnaires’ Disease in 2017. While only a proportion of these cases were attributed to the hotel, spa and leisure sector, two Midlands hotels, in Burton and Ludlow, were at the centre of outbreaks during the past 12 months.

“People in North Staffordshire may recall the tragic outbreak at hot tub sales site, JTF, of Fenton. Two men lost their lives and the company was recently fined around £1m, and going back to 1985, the outbreak at Stafford Hospital where 28 people died.”
SAS Water Ltd has a 13-strong team based in East Street, Leek, and works with household names such as JCB, Arriva and Balfour Beatty.
The Sentinel newspaper reported on Friday, 11 May that Staffordshire Housing Association (SHA) had written to the complex’s 300-plus residents to stress that the problem is confined to the development’s communal areas which include a cafe and restaurant, hairdressers, gym, meeting rooms and a hydrotherapy pool. It led to the temporary closure of the restaurant and café.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has inspected the hot water supply to the cafe and restaurant and hairdressers and is happy with the temporary arrangement.
The newspaper report quoted SHA Director of housing service Tim Sheail, who said: “We were advised to shutdown hot water supplies to the communal areas until the problem could be eradicated.
“This did not affect individual apartments within West End Village but involved the hot water supplies to the kitchens and toilets in the offices and the communal areas of the village.
“We immediately isolated the hot water taps in the affected areas, informed staff and delivered letters to all of the residents explaining what was happening. We used a specialist water hygiene company to treat the affected hot water cylinder the following day.
“We have advised residents that the treatment and re-testing process should mean the hot water system will be back to normal by the end of next week. It takes a few days because it involves a laboratory testing process and the bacteria can take a few days to incubate.
“We have installed alternative forms of hot water heating to the restaurant kitchen, in consultation with environmental health, and we have provided alternative hot water to the hairdressers so their business would not be disrupted.

“This was all completed within 24 hours of shutting off the hot water supplies. We informed the gym manager on the day we found the problem and provided a notice for external customers explaining that hot water showers would not be available while we resolve this problem.
“Staff have been available to answer any residents’ concerns and most have been reassured by the fact that this did not affect their own hot water system.”
For information on SAS Water please see – https://www.legionnairesdisease.com/.