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Legionella Alert

stethoscopeNews of the recent outbreak of Legionnaires disease has caused concern throughout Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.

At the time of writing the total number of suspected or confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease within the area stands at 95, consisting of 48 confirmed and 47 suspected cases. Two people, both with underlying health problems, have died from the disease.

Legionnaires’ disease or Pontiac Fever is normally contracted by breathing in (inhaling) small droplets of water (aerosols) that are contaminated with Legionella bacteria. Symptoms of the disease can begin anytime from between 2 and 14 days after exposure. Evidence suggests that the most likely source of the legionella bacteria responsible for the recent outbreak is a cluster of cooling towers in Wheatfield Road which is in the south west of Edinburgh.

What are the Symptoms of Legionnaires Disease?

  • High Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle pain/aches
  • Dry cough and difficulty with breathing

Developed Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion & deliration


Following this recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease we thought it may be useful to recap on the main duties of those who have designated responsibility for controlling the sources of risk from legionella bacteria.

  1. A full and detailed risk assessment of all water related plant is required to identify and assess the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria. The risk assessment should include the identification and evaluation of potential sources of risk and the means by which exposure to legionella bacteria is to be prevented. If prevention is not reasonably practicable then it should contain an evaluation of the means by which the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria can to be controlled. The risk assessment should have been reviewed within the last 2 years, or more recently if there is a reason to suspect that is may no longer be valid.
  2. A written scheme needs to be in place to prevent and control any identified risks. This needs to include:
    • A schematic plan
    • Details of the correct and safe operation of the system
    • Identify who is responsible for the implementation of the scheme
    • Details of the precautions to be taken
    • Details of the checks to be carried out together with the frequency required
    • Remedial action to be taken in the event that the scheme is not effective
  3. Appoint someone to take managerial responsibility for making sure the scheme is implemented and managed successfully. This can be either a member of staff or can be delegated to an outside (external) contractor. The appointed person must have the required level of competency to carry out the tasks involved.
  4. Make sure you keep detailed records and a logbook of any precautionary measures taken to ensure that the person/contractor you have appointed is carrying out all the relevant tests and inspections as identified in the water risk assessment.
  5. Domestic water systems within your properties should be subject to the following:
    • A schematic plan
    • Details of the correct and safe operation of the system
    • Identify who is responsible for the implementation of the scheme
    • Details of the precautions to be taken
    • Details of the checks to be carried out together with the frequency required
    • Remedial action to be taken in the event that the scheme is not effective
    • Low usage or infrequently use outlets must be flushed weekly for a period of 2 minutes
    • Showerheads should be subject to visual inspection and subject to physical cleaning, descale and disinfection should inspection show need
    • Cold water temperatures are below 20°C after flushing the outlets for 2 minutes
    • Hot water temperatures must achieve a temperature of at least 50°C within 1 minute of running the water, but less than 60°C
    • Hot water supplied from a hot water calorifier (cylinder) achieves a temperature of 60°C with the return water achieving 50°C
    • Undertake visual inspections of the internal surfaces of cold water storage cisterns (tanks) to assess their hygienic condition.
    • Incoming mains cold water supply to your premises should be below 20°C
  6. Should you have Cooling Towers or Evaporative Condensers within your properties, you must ensure that the controls, monitoring actions and treatment regimes specifically identified within your Risk Assessment, must be adhered to.

For more information please access our Legionella factsheet.

Metro SRM employs specialist consultants that are able to provide expert advice in the field of Legionella bacteria control. Our consultants would be happy to discuss any queries you may have regarding water hygiene issues related to your individual premises.

For more information contact us on 0845 058 9999.