Hotels & Care Homes - Legionnaires' disease - It could be you! - June 2012
Mainstream publications are starting to report that the 400 Legionnaires’ disease cases reported last year could be as high as 9,000 in reality. And that 1,500 people may be dying each year in England and Wales as a consequence.
They argue that most cases are misdiagnosed as pneumonia, in which event standard anti-biotics don’t work.
Cost-saving measures are being cited as a major area of concern. If plumbing systems run at 60°c, the Legionella bacteria are killed off. Cut back to 50°c, they can survive. The opportunity for people to become ill multiplies when water is pressurised, where droplets of fine spray can get into the lungs.
As people look to save money through the recession, the temptation to run plumbing at a lower temperature is obvious. One consultant is quoted as saying that some hotels and hospitals are already doing this.
Another specialist has pointed out that people are more likely to suffer as they get older, but the official figures actually reduce after the age of 65. It’s asserted that the over 65’s are not tested. Is this true? If so, care homes that have a spate of pneumonia deaths may well have an undetected Legionnaires’ issue. Left untreated the death toll will rise.
Testing is simple, and inexpensive. The opportunity to act quickly might save lives, and save a business its reputation.
Crucially, it’s not just hotels and care homes. Most businesses have the capacity to be the source of a Legionnaires’ outbreak. One case, to illustrate, was traced back to a hairdressers’ when a client ended up in hospital and several others became ill with flu-like symptoms.
Experts are now calling for improved monitoring of water systems. Nearly all the deaths are preventable if proper safety procedures are followed.
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