Businesses warned of Legionnaires' disease risk
Businesses planning to reopen in the coming weeks, following the easing of lockdown, are being urged to follow important guidance to prevent the spread of Legionnaires disease, a deadly disease which develops in water systems, causing serious illness and can also result in death.
Legionella bacteria is naturally present in water systems. However, while buildings have been closed, if water systems have not been maintained, the bacteria grows, and can develop to a deadly level. The warmer summer months also increases the risk.
Legionnaires' disease can be contracted by inhaling small droplets of water (aerosols) suspended in the air which contain Legionella bacteria.
From shops and restaurants to offices, hairdressers and gyms, any business that has a water supply and is currently shut down, needs to seek professional advice and implement certain measures to ensure that they are safe to open.
Executive Member Governance, Public Health and Climate Change, Councillor Fiona Thomson said,
Businesses looking to reopen after lockdown have many things to consider to ensure the safety and welfare of their customers and staff. While they will be introducing COVID-19 measures to keep everyone safe, it's important to highlight the risk of Legionnaires' disease and the actions that need to be taken to avoid it. Local businesses with concerns and looking for specific support and guidance should email the council's Environmental Health team at e.health @welhat.gov.uk.
Legionnaires' disease is fatal in 10% of cases. Symptoms include fever, a non-productive cough and pneumonia, very like those of COVID19. The groups of people susceptible to Legionnaires' disease are similar to those most susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19 infection: those with serious underlying health conditions; those over 50 years; smokers.
General information and advice is available from the Health and Safety Executive: https://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/what-you-must-do.htm.