Legionella Bacteria Found At Leicester Hospital

Measures To Prevent Patients Contracting Legionnaires’ Disease Being

10.07.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Leicester General Hospital has had to close showers on two wards and provide alternative washing arrangements and bottled water after discovering Legionella bacteria.

The precautions are being taken on wards 28 and 29 which are used for surgical patients, after the bacteria, which can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease, was found in routine tests on water supplies on 20 June.

Legionella bacteria can rapidly multiply if it finds its way into any artificial water supply systems or into air conditioning systems but officials at the hospital said patients were safe and the risk of Legionnaires' Disease was low and that the measures being taken are precautionary and there are no known cases of infection linked to this incident.

However patients have expressed concern to local media about their fears at keeping the wards open and said they were worried about elderly patients.

Legionnaires’ Disease can be contracted by breathing in contaminated water droplets and people with weaker immune systems can be at greater risk of contracting the illness, which is a form of pneumonia.

As well as the restrictions on showers and drinking water, the hospital is currently adding chlorine dioxide to the water supply to kill the bacteria, regularly testing the water temperatures and the taps and showers are also being regularly checked as part of the cleansing process.

Dr David Jenkins, consultant medical microbiologist and deputy director of infection prevention and control at Leicester's hospitals, told the Leicester Mercury: "Low levels of Legionella are not a cause for concern, however high levels can cause a form of pneumonia called Legionnaires' Disease so we undertake routine testing to ensure the risk is kept low."

Expert Opinion
We welcome the fact that Leicester Hospital has the systems in place to test for Legionella bacteria – but as well as managing the issue it is vital to find out if more could have been done to prevent the issue.

“At Irwin Mitchell we have represented many people who have suffered from Legionnaires ’ Disease over the past few years both, abroad and in the UK, with one particularly large outbreak affecting Stoke-on-Trent.

“Thankfully no one has yet become ill as a result of the Legionella bacteria which have been found at Leicester General Hospital but we have seen first-hand how victims can be affected by this potentially fatal disease and if anyone does show signs of symptoms it is crucial that they get help as soon as possible.”
Amandeep Dhillon, Partner