Portugal Legionnaires’ Cases Tumble as Cooling Towers Deactivated
An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease discovered in a northern region of Portugal late in 2020 has led to an investigation by the Public Ministry to try and work out the source of the outbreak.
While investigations are ongoing and no firm connection has yet been made, a notable drop in cases has followed the deactivation of cooling towers at a factory in the affected region.
Since the outbreak began in Porto in late October 2020, 88 people have been confirmed to have Legionnaires’ disease. Sadly, 10 have since died from the illness.
Cooling towers are potential sources of Legionnaires’ disease
While the investigation is ongoing, it would not be the first time that cooling towers have led to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. If contaminated, they can cause water droplets contaminated with Legionella bacteria to spread over a large local area, putting workers and people outside the grounds of the business or venue at risk.
Legionella bacteria can contaminate manmade water systems
Legionella bacteria can spread through all manmade water systems if they are not properly treated and maintained to combat the waterborne bacterium. Cooling towers, as with all other water sources, should be regularly cleaned, maintained, and disinfected. Such steps are designed to ensure that bacteria, including legionella remain at safe levels. If this does not occur, there is a greater chance of contaminated mist and spray from the cooling towers could reach a far wider audience than those on the premises.
Porto cooling towers turned off
The company that owns the cooling towers, Longa Vida, confirmed it had turned off the towers. They had not yet been told of any connection between the towers and the outbreak of Legionnaires in the northern part of Portugal. Regardless of the outcome in this case, it may perhaps highlight the continual need to conduct safety checks on cooling towers and other water systems to make sure the risk of the disease is minimal.
Legionella and water safety specialists
Our teams of legionella and water safety specialists support those responsible for the control of legionella in cooling towers and other water systems, helping them to protect people and meet their health and safety obligations in this specialist area.
We deliver professional water safety risk assessments for legionella, pseudomonas and other waterborne pathogens, water testing, independent compliance auditing, City & Guilds training and other environmental risk management services that help keep staff and others safe.