Recent investigations suggest 95% of UK garden water butts may be contaminated with Legionella bacteria, the bug responsible for the potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease.
Scientists working on behalf of Public Health England at the Porton Down facility have discovered most of the water butts in British gardens are likely contaminated with the potentially deadly Legionella bacteria. As part of a recent survey, they obtained samples from 113 water butts to determine whether the bacteria were present. Just six water butts were discovered to be free from the potentially deadly bacteria.
Outbreak News Today
The New York City Health Department are investigating a community cluster of 14 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Lower Washington Heights area of Manhattan
Health officials are investigating these cases and testing the water from all cooling tower systems in this section of Washington Heights.Ages of the individuals ranged from under 40 to over 80, but most were ages 50 and above. There have been no deaths associated with this cluster.
Are water features a Legionnaires’ disease risk?
Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease is present in naturally-occurring water sources, but it can develop at alarming rates in fountains and ornamental water features if the conditions are right, and if they are not treated correctly.
If the premises you maintain or look after includes a decorative water fountain or other type of water feature, it is essential you are aware of the potential dangers such water systems pose to you, your colleagues and visitors. This awareness ensures you can take appropriate steps to minimise the risks and so keep people safe.
A fatal case of Legionnaires’ disease at an Essex care home in 2015 has resulted in a £3 million fine for health insurance company BUPA after the Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the company for a series of management failings.
Kenneth Ibbetson was admitted to a BUPA Care Homes’ residential home in Essex in 2015, with his family paying £1000 per week for his care. The 86 year old had only been in the home for 12 weeks before contracting Legionnaires’ disease, which resulted in his death.
CDC-Outbreaks Associated with Treated Recreational Water — United States, 2000–2014
Outbreaks associated with exposure to treated recreational water can be caused by pathogens or chemicals in venues such as pools, hot tubs/spas, and interactive water play venues (i.e., water playgrounds). During 2000–2014, public health officials from 46 states and Puerto Rico reported 493 outbreaks associated with treated recreational water. These outbreaks resulted in at least 27,219 cases and eight deaths. Among the 363 outbreaks with a confirmed infectious etiology, 212 (58%) were caused by Cryptosporidium (which causes predominantly gastrointestinal illness), 57 (16%) by Legionella (which causes Legionnaires’ disease, a severe pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a milder illness with flu-like symptoms), and 47 (13%) by Pseudomonas (which causes folliculitis [“hot tub rash”] and otitis externa [“swimmers’ ear”]). Investigations of the 363 outbreaks identified 24,453 cases; 21,766 (89%) were caused by Cryptosporidium, 920 (4%) by Pseudomonas, and 624 (3%) by Legionella. At least six of the eight reported deaths occurred in persons affected by outbreaks caused by Legionella. Hotels were the leading setting, associated with 157 (32%) of the 493 outbreaks. Overall, the outbreaks had a bimodal temporal distribution: 275 (56%) outbreaks started during June–August and 46 (9%) in March. Assessment of trends in the annual counts of outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium, Legionella, or Pseudomonas indicate mixed progress in preventing transmission. Pathogens able to evade chlorine inactivation have become leading outbreak etiologies. The consequent outbreak and case counts and mortality underscore the utility of CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code (https://www.cdc.gov/mahc) to prevent outbreaks associated with treated recreational water.
Hlavsa MC, Cikesh BL, Roberts VA, et al. Outbreaks Associated with Treated Recreational Water — United States, 2000–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:547–551. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6719a3
Outbreak News Today
Controlling Legionnaires’ disease will require a universal, preventive-based approach by a bevy of stakeholders ranging from building owners to hospital administrators, from public health officials to policymakers, and from scientists to water system engineers.
In other words, it’s going to take a village to get a handle on the deadliest waterborne disease in the United States, participants heard recently at Legionella Conference 2018 in Baltimore, co-sponsored by NSF International and the National Science Foundation.
Incidence of Legionnaires’ disease – a severe lung illness caused by Legionella bacteria inhaled from water distribution and premise plumbing systems – has jumped more than 300 percent since 2000. Yet preventative efforts, conference speakers said, are being hampered by a lack of awareness and inconsistent planning, testing and management of building water systems. There are more than 5 million commercial buildings in the United States.
On 20 April 2018, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust was fined by Bristol Crown Court for failing to control the risk to patients from exposure to legionella bacteria in its water systems. After the death of one of its patients from Legionnaires’ disease, HSE started an investigation and found that existing control measures were ineffective. The Trust pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £37,451.78. Full details of the case may be found at :
Cooling Tower Regulatory Intervention Programme
HM Principal Specialist Inspector of Health & Safety, Mr Duncan Smith will be giving an update on the findings of HSE’s latest cooling tower intervention programme to the Water Management Society Conference on 19 June 2018. Details of the conference and how to register may be found at: