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Gloucestershire Business News

Is your business at risk of Legionnaires' disease?

Businesses across Gloucestershire are being urged to carry out vital safety checks to their water systems to avoid increasing the risk of Legionnaires' disease as they reopen following the COVID-19 lockdown.

Legionella bacteria are naturally present in water systems and the disease is fatal in 10% of cases. Legionnaires' disease can be contracted by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air which contain Legionella bacteria.

Symptoms include fever, a dry cough, shortness of breath and pneumonia, very like those of Covid-19. The groups of people who have a higher risk to Legionnaires' disease are similar to individuals most at risks of serious complications from Coronavirus such as those with underlying health conditions.

Regular flushing of your water system is advised throughout the shut down period. Prior to the reopening of your business, all aspects of your water management system need to be reviewed and will be dependent on the complexities of the system.

All businesses that have a water supply and have been shut during lockdown need to be considered such as shops, hair dressers, offices, hotels, gyms, sports clubs, golf clubs, pubs, restaurants, and camp sites.

For advice on how your business could be affected by Legionnaires' disease, contact your local council environmental health team. If you are unsure who this is go to www.gov.uk/find-local-council.

A comprehensive guidance about the risks of Legionnaires' disease as a result from the coronavirus crisis has been produced by the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) and is available to download here.

Cllr Dawn Melvin, cabinet member for environmental health, said: "Many water systems would have been left inactive during lockdown, increasing the risk of bacteria forming which can cause life threatening Legionnaires' disease.

"The lifting of lockdown restrictions will create pressure on businesses to quickly return to normal, however it's essential owners take appropriate action by following the guidance or contacting their local council's environmental health team for advice."

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