MANAGEMENT PLAN: Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service CEO Adrian Pennington says its water testing is robust.
MANAGEMENT PLAN: Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service CEO Adrian Pennington says its water testing is robust. Paul Donaldson BUN261116HOSP4

Testing finds Legionella in hospital water

ELEVEN samples collected from Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service facilities tested positive for the Legionella bacteria in the past six months.

Of those, nine were positive for Legionella non-pneumophila, which is not usually associated with Legionnaire's disease.

The results come after the release online of Legionella reporting for health facilities in Queensland.

Wide Bay Public Health Unit Physician Margaret Young said WBHHS had a strong track record of water quality testing, with 299 different sites across Wide Bay tested at least twice in the past six months.

"The positive results were remediated quickly through measures that have proven to be successful because re-samples were clear of any reportable Legionella level," Dr Young said.

"Remediation measures included heat and chlorine treatment, replacement of taps and pipes, a flush of the water through the system and other measures.

"The re-samples after this remediation work indicate cases were isolated and not systemic, posing a negligible risk to people's health.

"On top of the quarterly testing, WBHHS staff are also vigilant in undertaking weekly monitoring of water temperature and chlorine levels to minimise the risk of Legionella and other bacteria."

WBHHS chief executive Adrian Pennington said the service had a well-established Water Risk Management Plan that included quarterly water testing not only for Legionella strains but also various other bacteria.

"We've had a robust, proven Water Risk Management Plan in place for more than 12 months, and our staff welcome online public reporting of legionella testing," Mr Pennington said.

"As part of our water quality plan, WBHHS has always openly provided information on any significant positive tests or potential public health risks, and disclosed to the community what remedial action was taken.

"We hope statewide online reporting will highlight the stringent and extensive testing we already undertake, as well as the effectiveness of our response to any issue of concern."

Dr Young said Legionella bacteria were common in the environment. They can be found in air-conditioning cooling towers, hot or warm water systems, showerheads, spa baths, creeks, soil and potting mix.

"Legionnaire's disease is caught through inhaling the Legionella bacteria, and there is a very low risk of hospital-acquired infection," Dr Young said.

"It is important to remember that Legionella itself poses no risk to healthy people and is only a potential risk to a small percentage of the population who have compromised immune systems."

Legionnaire's disease is a severe bacterial pneumonia characterised by fever, cough, and muscle aches. Treatment requires antibiotics and usually hospital admission.



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