Editorial: Legionella risk there all the time

Editorial: THE discovery of legionella bacteria at Hervey Bay hospital is a nightmare for staff and patients alike - with no patients reporting symptoms, it's clear there's no reason for widespread panic though.

While it's not known yet whether the bacteria found in the facility is the same one found in test results of a man who died there recently, with precautionary measures in place, medical professionals are confident that there is little risk to most people.

But it does raise questions about what could have been done to prevent an outbreak.

The hospital conducts regular checks, but is it enough to catch the bacteria once it's already taken hold?

Legionella is not particularly uncommon, as far as bacteria goes. There's more than 50 types, and it's regularly found in soil, and aquatic systems, as well as air-conditioners. And you're probably more likely to catch it in your own home than anywhere else.

It can be prevented from spreading though, by careful management and regular disinfection of water systems.

International guidelines suggest keeping water circulating, and either 50ºC or below 25ºC at all times, and running taps and showers at least once a week to cut the risk of bacteria multiplying.

The hospital will no doubt be examining its procedures - but it might pay to consider the risks present in your own home if you're truly concerned.



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