A birth center in southern England has been cleaned and will soon reopen after having closed for the second time this year because of positive tests for Legionella.
Paulton Birth Centre in Somerset was closed for maintenance in early June after a sample of water was found to contain Legionella. The bacteria was found in a section of the center that does not serve patients directly. Now, the water system has been tested again after a cleaning and no Legionella has been found. A spokesperson for the center’s owner, NHS Property Services, said that the water system had been thoroughly disinfected and that a deep cleaning of the entire property would take place before the center reopens. Officials said that the closure is a purely preventative and precautionary measure based on routine testing; no cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported.
This was the second incident of contamination this year: in March, the center was closed as maintenance crews responded to positive tests for Legionella in the water system, this time in a section supplying the birthing unit. The center was closed for several weeks. Again, officials stated that the closure was precautionary and that the bacteria did not lead to any disease.
The quick response of the center’s managers is commendable, as is their practice of routine testing for Legionella bacteria. Health centers, and any facility that serves people at risk of compromised immune systems, should exercise particular caution with their water supply. Large facilities should always have a management plan in place to facilitate a quick response to the appearance of Legionella.