Legionella bacteria detected at retirement village

TRACES of the deadly legionella bacteria have been detected at an Ipswich retirement village, but health officials believe it is not an outbreak of the disease.

Milford Grange Retirement Community, operated by RSL Care, uncovered the traces in the hot water system last week after conducting tests of the residential care area.

No cases of legionnaire's disease have been confirmed and the find was reported to Queensland Health.

It is the second positive test for the bacteria at an Ipswich health facility in a month, after traces were found in tests at Ipswich Hospital in June.

RSL Care Executive Manager Service Delivery Luke Greive said the detection of legionella bacteria at Ipswich Hospital sparked their own testing of the facility.

And testing at the Eastern Heights complex was completed last Tuesday.

Mr Greive said RSL Care shut off and sanitised the affected water systems.

He said they were told by an independent expert to flush hot water at 70 degrees through the fixtures to clean the system.

"Wherever levels occur outside of those categories, RSL Care has acted regardless of the level to eliminate any potential risk by immediately sanitising all possible sources in accordance with the Department of Health's Code of Practice for System Testing and Maintenance Practice," he said.

"This process has been carried out with as little disruption to residents and staff as possible."

A spokesman from Queensland Health said actual cases of illness as a result of exposure to these bacteria were rare.

"In this case, there has been no legionnaire's outbreak - only the mere detection of the legionella bacteria," the spokesman said. "However, we have taken the precautionary approach that peace of mind and having a baseline understanding of normal bacterial control in our facility is a healthy operational standard."

Queensland Health urges all aged care facilities and providers to conduct their own testing.

Queensland Health ordered the state's 17 health districts and requested 103 private health facilities to test for legionella bacteria in early June, after the death of a patient at the Wesley Hospital.

The disease is spread by breathing in droplets of moisture that contain the bacteria. Legionella can be found in air-conditioning cooling towers, hot or warm water systems, showerheads, spa baths and even soil and potting mix.

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