Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) is urging owners of public buildings and volunteer-run premises to service their water and air conditioning systems before re-opening to staff and the public.
Any water systems lying dormant during the COVID-19 emergency are likely to have increased levels of bacteria present, which means there’s a heightened risk of Legionnaires’ disease.
Shops and offices, hairdressers, beauty salons, hotels, pubs and restaurants, sports centres, gyms, residential buildings, campsites – anywhere that has a water supply and is currently shut down – are being reminded to check and maintain their systems.
The Council’s environmental health team is contacting local businesses directly to advise that whilst it may not be high on their priority list during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important ensure all water systems are managed safely at this time.
Water systems that are not being used and maintained effectively are very likely to have increased levels of bacteria present. Experts say that it is far better to maintain a water system than to try and treat a water system which has gone out of control.
Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection caught by inhaling droplets of water from air conditioning units, shower heads or hot tubs.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease are similar to COVID-19 and include high temperature, feverishness and chills, cough, muscle pains, headache, and pneumonia. Its name originates from a deadly 1976 outbreak of the disease at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia.
More about the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease can be found here: www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/symptoms.htm
Guidance and procedures by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease on how to best manage Legionella in building water systems during the COVID-19 outbreak can be found here: