Urgent health warning issued over deadly Legionnaires’ disease spread in hot tubs

Symptoms of the disease are similar to that of the flu, but can worsen into a fatal form of pneumonia.

An urgent health warning has been issued over a deadly disease that is spread in places such as hot tubs, air conditioning systems and shower heads. Legionnaires’ disease is a serious lung infection, caused by Legionella bacteria.

You can contract the disease by inhaling droplets of water that contain the bacteria from things like hot tubs and taps and showers that are not used often. Places like hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria may have made its way into the water supply are likely places to catch this disease too.

A warning has been issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a company was prosecuted when five people became ill with the disease, one was even rushed into intensive care and placed on a ventilator. The initial symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease is very similar to that of the flu.

  • a cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • a high temperature
  • flu-like symptoms

If you develop any of these symptoms you should call 111 and get advice. They will tell you what to do and if you should go to hospital.

HSE England says: “Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age but some people are at higher risk

“People over 45 years of age, smokers and heavy drinkers, people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, diabetes, lung and heart disease sufferers and anyone with an impaired immune system.”

If the bacteria spreads to the lungs, symptoms mimic those of pneumonia. This includes chest pains, a persistent cough, and shortness of breath.

To minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, ensure that disinfectant is used regularly in hot tubs and spas, and they are kept and maintained at the correct pH level.

  • Original Article: Devon Live
  • Date: June 2023