A recent increase in reported outbreaks of Legionnairesí disease means that landlords need to take special care to be aware of the risks and measures to prevent infection.
The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Legionnairesí disease incidences have hit record levels. According to Public Health England, showers in about 1.5 million households in the UK could be harbouring the life-threatening Legionella bacteria. Outbreaks in the UK have occurred at the BBC in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Barrow-in-Furness, and Kingston and Stafford hospitals.
A summary of Legionnairesí disease for landlords
Legionnaires disease got its name from members of the American Legion who contracted the disease in 1976 while attending a convention at a hotel in Philadelphia.
Legionnaires disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria, which grows in large numbers in warmed water systems that remain idle for long periods of time. This is why buildings with large and more complex water systems, such as hotels, hospitals, office blocks, schools and large buildings are most at risk of Legionella infection.
Everyone is susceptible to Legionella infection, and the disease can be fatal for people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, as well as heavy smokers and drinkers. The disease can also lead to life-threatening complications such as septic shock or organ failure.
Legionnairesí disease for landlords and building managers is a concern that needs to be addressed by introducing appropriate measures to reduce the risks of infection.
Legionnairesí disease risks to manage
● If conditions are favourable in man-made water systems, Legionella bacteria colonies may grow.
● The risk temperature range for Legionella is between 20-45 degrees Celsius.
● A hot water system should be set to 60 degrees centigrade so that it delivers water to the taps at 55 degrees Celsius.
The legalities of Legionnairesí disease
● It is a legal requirement to monitor and check your water temperatures constantly.
● All records of monitoring should be kept available for up to 5 years.
● The responsibility for testing and monitoring rests with the authorised person on site, even if they are using a third-party service, making owners and landlords responsible for minimising the risk of Legionella in their water systems.