Legionnaires’ disease warning: Businesses urged to check water to avoid deadly condition

LEGIONNAIRES’ disease is a lung infection you can get from inhaling droplets of water from things like air conditioning – it’s uncommon but potentially fatal. Businesses looking to reopen in the coming months are being urged to carry out safety checks on their water supply to lessen the risk of infection.

Legionnaires’ disease can be contracted when a person breathes in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that causes the infection. Initial symptoms include a cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, a high temperature and flu-light symptoms, but untreated Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal.

According to the NHS, it’s usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply.

As such, UK businesses and other services looking to reopen from Monday 29 March are being urged to carry out vital safety checks to avoid increasing the risk of the potentially fatal infection in their water supply.

With many businesses and buildings closed for months, the chances of bacteria forming in the water systems is more likely.

The Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH) has published guidance for businesses following the COVID-19 lockdown.

This advice includes flushing cold water systems with fresh mains water as well as increasing the temperature of hot water systems to above 60°C.

There were 295 recorded cases of Legionnaire’s disease with symptom onset between January and October 2020, despite the closure of many businesses.

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