With the Easter holidays approaching, many people will be thinking of getting away for a few days. However, European statistics indicate that more than 1000 travellers contract the disease each year and according to the official statistics published by Public Health England, travel associated Legionnaires’ disease accounted for approximately 43% of all confirmed cases reported in England and Wales over the three year period from 2014 to 2016.
This level is typical of what can be observed year on year and is a matter that has not gone unnoticed by the authorities. In December 2017, the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC) published a leaflet entitled ‘Information about Legionnaires’ disease for managers of tourist accommodation’; which offers guidance specifically for tourist accommodation including hotels, apartments and camping sites.
Reducing the risk: a 15-point plan for reducing the risk from Legionella
The risk of Legionnaires’ disease can be minimised. Hoteliers and other accommodation owners are recommended to follow the 15-point plan for reducing the risk from Legionella:
- Have one named person responsible for Legionella control.
- Ensure the named person has sufficient training and experience to be able to carry out the role competently and other staff are trained to be aware of the importance of their role in controlling Legionella.
- Keep hot water hot and circulating at all times: 50°C – 60°C (too hot to put hands into for more than a few seconds) throughout the entire hot water system. ECDC HEALTH INFORMATION Legionnaires’ disease for managers of tourist accommodation
- Keep cold water cold at all times. It should be maintained at temperatures below 20°C throughout the system to all outlets (this may not be possible when the ambient temperature is high, but every effort should be made to ensure that cold water entering the premises and in storage remains as cold as possible).
- Run all taps and showers in guest rooms and other areas for several minutes to draw through water (until it reaches the temperatures stated in points 3 and 4) at least once a week if rooms are unoccupied, and always prior to occupation.
- Keep shower heads and taps clean and free from scale.
- Clean and disinfect cooling towers and associated pipes used in air conditioning systems regularly – at least twice per year.
- Clean, drain and disinfect water heaters (calorifiers) once per year.
- Disinfect the hot water system with high level (50mg/l) chlorine for two to four hours after work on the system and water heaters and before the beginning of every season.
- Clean and disinfect all water filters regularly, as directed by the manufacturer, at least every one to three months.
- Inspect water storage tanks, cooling towers and visible pipe work monthly. Ensure that all coverings are intact and firmly in place.
- Inspect the inside of cold water tanks at least once per year and disinfect with 50mg/l chlorine and clean if containing a deposit or otherwise dirty.
- Ensure that when carrying out system modifications or new installations they do not create pipework with intermittent or no water flow, and disinfect the system following any work.
- If there is a spa pool (also known as whirlpool spas, ‘Jacuzzis’, spa baths), ensure that: − it is continuously treated with 2–3mg/l chlorine or bromine and the levels and pH are monitored at least three times per day; − at least half of the water is replaced each day; − sand filters are backwashed daily; − the whole system is cleaned and disinfected once per week
- Keep daily records of all water treatment readings, such as temperature, pH and chlorine concentrations and ensure they are checked regularly by the manager.
Further advice about specific controls should be sought from experts in this field. They can carry out a full risk assessment of the accommodation. Your local public health authorities can advise you further.”
Philip Lonsdale, authorising engineer, Water Hygiene Centre