Legionnaires Disease in Hotels & Hospitality. Controlling Legionella
Some industries and businesses are at greater risk from Legionnaires’ disease and legionella contamination than others. For some, there may be little or no risk at all, and in this case, nothing beyond a straight-forward legionella risk assessment and simple control scheme will be required. However, we cannot include hotels, spas, and similar businesses in that category. Indeed, the travel and hospitality sectors are among those at greatest risk from Legionnaires’ disease and legionella contamination.
Foreign travel related cases of Legionnaires’ disease
Public Health England noted in its report on Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales 2015 that there were more outbreaks and clusters of the disease in people who had travelled abroad, than through community outbreaks. For example, there were 174 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease through travel abroad in 2015, compared to 139 community acquired cases in 2015. In 2016 travel related cases decreased to 146.
Where does the biggest risk come in?
Since hot and cold water systems must be checked for legionella risk and contamination, it stands to reason that premises with lots of showers, swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, and similar facilities must display an increased risk of contamination.
Legionella bacteria will stand the best chance of thriving when the water temperature is between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius. The high humidity and formation of water aerosols that might also be present in such instances will also increase the odds of someone breathing in contaminated water droplets should it be present.
In a hotel a greater number of people could be exposed to legionella
Consider for a moment if an outbreak was to occur in a hotel. Many guests may stay in that hotel over even a short period, such as a week, with some staying overnight, and others staying for longer. Most guests will use the showers daily, some will use the hotel leisure facilities, too, such as hot tubs or spas, for example.
If an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was to occur, it could potentially affect hundreds of people, all of whom had the hotel in common. However, it may take some time before the source of the outbreak was confirmed, thus allowing many people to fall ill as the condition incubates and leaves people at risk of serious illness. Other guests may also be exposed before the source is found.
Hotel water systems are often complex and need an expert review
The complexity of the water systems found in most hotels, spas, or similar hospitality and leisure premises can be significant. This highlights the importance of using a suitably competent person or company to carry out the legionella risk assessment, and to identify the best way to manage and treat the risks that are found. Without such expertise things can be missed from the risk assessment and water safety control programme which can lead to increased risks for hotel guests, visitors and staff.
A clearly written, expert plan to prevent legionella from spreading will help your hotel or hospitality facility – and the people who use it – stay safe today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Expert support to control Legionnaires disease in hotels and hospitality premises
To find out more about our specialist legionella risk management services for hotels and the hospitality sector please contact us on 0161 877 0586 (Manchester) or 0203 637 47 48 (London).
For additional information about Public Health England’s Legionnaires’ disease surveillance … here