Cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the UK usually peak between July and September. As the weather warms up, it becomes easier for the deadly waterborne bacteria to grow in a water source.

A recent case of Legionnaires’ disease in the UK saw healthcare giant Bupa being fined £3 million over a pensioner’s death at a nursing home in Essex.

Kenneth Ibbetson, 86, a resident of Hutton Village Care Home contracted Legionnaire’s disease just 12 weeks after moving to the £1,000-a-week care home. Within weeks of moving to the car home, Mr Ibbetson complained of feeling unwell. He was initially diagnosed with a lung infection and he later died at Basildon Hospital.

A high concentration of legionella bacteria was found in the water taken from taps in Mr Ibbetson’s ensuite bathroom. This bacteria causes a severe lung infection when a person inhales droplets of water containing the bacteria.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Read our list of 10 things you need to know about Legionnaires’ disease and how to prevent it.

Where are the bacteria found?

  • The water of air conditioning units
  • Hot tubs
  • Showers
  • Taps
  • Any water source where the bacteria has infected the water supply.

Negligence causes cases of Legionnaire’s disease in the UK

Existing plumbing problems and failure to monitor a water system and flush it regularly allow the deadly bacteria to develop. Staff need proper training to ensure that they know how to address legionella control so that steps can be taken to prevent the bacteria from infecting water systems.

In another case of Legionnaires’ disease in the UK, The Royal United Hospital (RUH) faced a fine of £300,000 for health and safety breaches after a patient, Terence Brooks, died from Legionnaires’ disease. In this case, the hospital had been warned that it needed to update plans of its water distribution system to reduce the risk of the disease, but the required work hadn’t been done. As a result, the hospital neglected to monitor their water systems for legionella, and the bacteria became present in the water supply.

How to prevent cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the UK

  • Implement measures to prevent and control the risk of exposure to legionella.
  • Monitor your water systems regularly.
  • Review your risk control measures whenever there is reason to suspect that they are no longer valid or when there are changes to your water system.
  • Get a Legionella risk assessment from the water services experts at Smarter Business.

For more information: the UK government compiles monthly legionella reports listing cases of Legionnaires disease in the UK.