Specifier Review

Legionnaires’ outbreak could have been avoided says shower boss

A bathroom equipment manufacturer has issued a reminder about combatting Legionnaires’ disease following the discovery of the bacterium in a Northern Ireland school.

Hillcroft Special School was closed on Friday 1st February after the bacterium was found in a shower block and was expected to be closed for more than a week. The school have stressed that the infected area was not one that is used by students or teachers.

Staffordshire-based anti-scald tap, shower and valve manufacturer Inta have been campaigning for improved hot water safety in bathrooms and washrooms. The company says that this incident could have been avoided by simple preventative maintenance.

Stuart Gizzi, managing director at Inta, said: “Whilst we are pleased to hear that it appears no-one will be affected by this outbreak, it is still sad to hear of yet another preventable Legionnaires’ scare.

“Legionella is a bacteria that thrives in tepid and warm water, at temperatures of around 20 – 45 degrees and can occur when taps and showers have been left unused for a considerable period of time. Large buildings such as hotels, hospitals, schools and office blocks can be more susceptible to contamination, as they have larger complex water supply systems where bacteria can easily thrive.

“There are systems available that will automatically flush hot water through a system, to prevent Legionella forming. This is useful if washroom facilities are only used occasionally, but scheduling to turn on the heat and run hot water through each outlet manually is just as effective.

“Scheduled maintenance for hot water systems must be factored in by any facilities manager to ensure the safe operation of systems, even when they’re not in use.”

The outbreak in Northern Ireland is not an isolated incident. At the end of January a hospice in Surrey was contaminated, leaving two residents and an employee in hospital.

For more information on Inta’s anti-scald fittings and TMV products visit www.intatec.co.uk or call 01889 272 180.

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