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Professional body warns of rise in Legionnaires’ cases as outbreak claims grandmother of four (Consumer press)

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has issued a warning on the growing number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease, in the wake of the death of Elaine Brown, a 69 year-old grandmother of four, from Liverpool.

Mrs Brown died in August, following a fatal stroke triggered by Legionnaires disease (LD). She had contracted the illness while staying at The Feathers Hotel in Ludlow, Shropshire. It has now come to light that another guest, a woman in her 70’s, had also contracted Legionnaires from the same establishment back in April. It is estimated some 10% of those contracting LD (a type of pneumonia) will die from related complications.

Mrs Brown’s family is now seeking legal action, claiming that more could have been done to keep her safe. While the local authority had issued the hotel with an improvement notice following the first discovery in April, the second outbreak is leading to questions regarding the standard and quality of the remedial work carried out on the hotel's water system. The Hotel is currently closed while its plumbing system is overhauled.

CIPHE CEO Kevin Wellman said, “Our thoughts are with the family on the tragic passing of Mrs Brown. Legionnaires’ disease is a well known risk that can be managed effectively by qualified and competent plumbing professionals working to industry standards and Regulations.”

As the professional body for the industry, the CIPHE is alarmed that cases of Legionnaires’ disease are on the increase. Government figures show that in 2016 there were 496 reported cases of Legionnaires disease, however this year has seen a marked rise with 522 reported cases already by October 2017.

Kevin continued, “Annual deaths caused by poor plumbing, now outnumber those caused by carbon monoxide related incidents, but still there is no formal regulation of those who can call themselves a plumber. The CIPHE is dedicated to improving the safety and health of the public and I would urge that professional status, such as that obtained by being a CIPHE member, is a part of the decision-making process when hiring the services of a plumbing or heating professional. The consequences of inadequate workmanship can be more than just financial, it can have a severe impact on your health too.”

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