Legionella has been detected in a warm water system in an acute health care facility – The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria. The outbreak has been linked to the hydrotherapy pool and has since been temporarily closed and disinfected.
It is not the first time Legionella has been detected in a water delivery system. Legionella is an organism that occurs naturally in the environment and is found in very low concentrations in the potable water supply. Under the right conditions, Legionella bacteria are able to multiply and pose significant risks to the health of exposed individuals.
The risk of Legionella growth increases in water delivery systems that store water at temperatures between 30°C and 60°C. Susceptible individuals may contract Legionnaires’ disease if they are exposed to small water droplets containing the bacteria, like those produced by showers.
Legislation to Manage Warm Water Delivery Systems:
Like Cooling Towers, Warm Water Systems do have legislative requirements to manage the risk of Legionella infection.
The Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009 Division 2—Legionella risks in certain premises, lists premises which should have procedures in place to appropriately manage Legionella risks.
Such premises include:
- aged care (as defined in the Aged Care Act 1997 (Com))
- health services (as defined in the PHWA)
- health service establishments (as defined in the Health Services Act 1988)
- registered funded agencies (as defined in the Health Services Act 1988)
- correctional services (as defined in the Corrections Act 1986)
- commercial vehicle washes.
Managing the Risks of Legionella
In order to comply with Regulations and reduce the risk of Legionella in Warm Water Systems, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services recommends that a Legionella Risk Management Plan be developed for Warm Water Delivery Systems.
An assessment of other water delivery systems should also be conducted to identify any systems that store water at temperatures between 30°C and 60°C combined with producing respirable sized droplets to which people might be exposed. A risk assessment should then be conducted on those systems.
For more information, or to discuss Legionella and risk management, contact Daniel Salzmann at firstname.lastname@example.org