New Legionella outbreaks cause concern

Published:  19 May, 2014

Two new Legionella outbreaks has raised awareness of the need to maintain strict water hygiene.

Legionella control company Swiftclean Building Services is warning the industry that the consequences of legionella outbreaks can be "both immediate and far reaching", as the outbreaks caused a man's death and left the future of a care home in the balance.

“It is tragic to read of the inquest into the death of Mr Geoffrey Platts from legionella found in the water tank serving his sheltered accommodation in Herne Bay in Kent,” said Swiftclean’s head of surveying, Anthony Hoare. “It seems that the incorrect installation of a hot water pump on a shower allowed hot water to leak into the cold tank, creating perfect conditions for legionella to breed. This caused the death of an 88 year old war hero who had survived 25 missions as a rear gunner in a Liberator bomber during the Second World War.

"An expert inspection of the water system would have highlighted the problem, which could have been rectified, preventing the outbreak and ultimately this very sad fatality.”

The sheltered accommodation was owned by a housing trust, which will have to answer questions concerning the management of the water system, says Swiftclean, which believes prosecutions are very likely to follow.

Mr Hoare also spoke about the far reaching problems that a legionella outbreak can cause. “It is also worrying to see speculation that Thamesbrook, currently the only council run care home in the London Borough of Chelsea, may never reopen after legionella has been discovered there,” he said.

“While we are glad to hear that residents seem to have been spared contracting the illness itself, these vulnerable, elderly people have had to suffer an upsetting temporary move and there now seems to be some doubt that the home itself will survive the outbreak. The local council is being very reticent about if and when the home will reopen and fears have been voiced locally for some time that they may wish to sell what could be a valuable site for redevelopment. The future of the home could have been far more secure without a legionella outbreak, and this could have been avoided with regular assessments and adequate maintenance to L8 standards.”