Holiday Makers at Risk From Neglected Facilities
With the summer approaching, many people begin to think about taking holidays abroad. Hotels, villas and spas are therefore especially popular at this time of year, while leisure facilities such as pools also welcome more of us than at any other time. This means that effective water hygiene protocols are essential to keep the large volume of holidaymakers safe and healthy. Neglected or overlooked facilities are likely to pose a greater risk of infection for visitors, from dangerous bacteria such as legionella.
One recent example of this in the UK concerns a family who very recently visited Austria and stayed in a hotel. One member of the family returned home feeling unwell and was later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease; the pneumonic illness associated with the legionella bacteria. This has had serious consequences, with the affected individual forced to take extended leave from work due to the disease. The family are now seeking legal advice as they try to determine where and how the illness could have been contracted.
Legionella usually enters the body when the water vapour it inhabits is inhaled, making hot-and-cold water systems, water storage tanks and pool facilities the likely source of the contamination. An investigation is necessary to discover where the bacteria came from, in order to prevent further incidents of this nature.
Public Health England (PHE) gather data to assess the number of legionella incidences and where/how they occurred, in order to give us a better understanding of the bacteria. In 2018, they recorded the highest number of incidences in August and September, when the weather was warm and many of us would have been on holiday. These two months have consistently seen the most cases in recent years. Travel abroad and in the UK were categories examined by PHE as part of their research, and they found that there were more confirmed cases in those who travelled abroad in 2018 than those who travelled within the UK. This could be set to increase this year, with more than ten cases already confirmed in April 2019 for those going abroad and more anticipated in the summer months.
Control and Prevention
Concerns over water hygiene protocol in holiday facilities are enough to ruin anyone’s trip. There can be serious consequences for public health, staff safety and the future running of facilities that do not meet the required standard. Duty holders for holiday and leisure facilities are solely responsible for keeping the public safe and in so doing keeping their employers’ business open. The best way to tackle these August/September spikes in legionella cases is for facilities managers to gain a better understanding of the bacteria, the essential processes for monitoring and testing sensitive areas and to carry out regular risk assessments, staff training and water system flushing.
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