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Professional body warns of rise in Legionnaires’ cases as outbreak claims grandmother of four (Trade 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 LD from the same establishment back in April. It is estimated some 10% of those contracting LD 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.

CEO Kevin Wellman said, “Our thoughts are with the family on the tragic passing of Mrs Brown. Those of us in the industry know that Legionnaires’ disease is a 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 (and our Safe Water Group in particular) have been concerned about this risk for some time, hence the publication of the Safe Water Guide: Scald Prevention and Legionella, in March 2017. We strongly advise that all of those in the industry increase their knowledge on managing Legionella to help reverse this upward trend.”

If you are looking to improve your knowledge on Legionella and Legionnaires disease, you can visit the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/ and check out the Water Safety section of the CIPHE’s techtalk website at https://techtalk-ciphe.org.uk/water-safety/

You can also purchase the Safe Water Guide: Scald Prevention and Legionella direct from the CIPHE by phoning 01708 472791 or emailing info@ciphe.org.uk