There has been heightened concern in the United Kingdom recently following the May, 2011 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Glasgow when nine people became ill, of whom three died. While no new cases have been confirmed since May 18, the presence of legionellae in a sports complex in Wishaw, in the IBM plant in Warwick, and in one-third of toilet systems on UK trains, is not being taken lightly.
The bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease were detected in the plumbing system of Wishaw Sports Centre in Wishaw, Scotland. Routine testing led to the discovery of the legionellae on shower heads and faucets in the changing areas on May 25, and the facility was immediately closed for disinfection, then re-opened on May 27. Last week, a staff member of the Centre was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, but it is not certain that this person was infected with the same strain of legionella as found in the complex. The Wishaw Sports Centre remains open to the public while investigations are conducted.
Most employees of an IBM plant in Warwick, England were sent home on the morning of June 2 after legionellae were discovered in the water system the night before. On June 3, health officials from the Warwick District Council agreed to disinfect the water system while an investigation into the source of the bacteria was underway.
Finally, tests revealed that one-third of the UK’s train toilet systems contained legionellae, and ScotRail in particular confirmed that it had found legionellae in 2 of 15 tanks tested. The Health Protection Agency has stated that the risk to the public was very low, but a disinfection plan has been implemented nevertheless.