Legionnaires' disease closes pool

By Roddy AshworthA PUBLIC swimming pool has been closed after tests uncovered the bacteria that can cause the potentially fatal legionnaires' disease.

By Roddy Ashworth

A PUBLIC swimming pool has been closed after tests uncovered the bacteria that can cause the potentially fatal legionnaires' disease.

Checks on water at the council-run Frinton and Walton Swimming Pool were taken after a man thought to have bathed there subsequently fell ill with the condition.

The tests showed there was legionella bacterium in the water supply that serves the shower area, although the swimming pool water was not affected.

As a result, Tendring District Council closed the pool as a precautionary measure while detailed checks were carried out to find the source of the bug and work was carried out to eliminate it.

The decision to run the tests came after the council learned of a confirmed case of legionnaires' disease in a 34-year-old London man, who had visited the Tendring area

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The council's environmental services department then took water samples from the showers at the swimming pool in Princes Esplanade, Walton on the Naze.

These proved positive for legionella, the bacteria that causes the illness, and the pool was closed to the public on Friday.

Since the closure, improvements have been made to the plumbing, which will be followed up by a thorough disinfection of the water supply system.

Further samples will be taken and it is expected the pool will remain closed for at least two weeks until it can be confirmed that the problem has been eliminated. Regular checks will then be carried out to monitor the situation.

Pierre Oxley, the council's cabinet member with responsibility for leisure centres and swimming pools, said: “This is first and foremost a safety concern for us and while I appreciate it will mean inconvenience for a great many, removing the risk, however remote, for potential users must take priority.

“The communicable diseases branch of the Department of Health advise that the symptoms of this illness are very similar to a case of flu.

“They stress that any user of this pool who feels that they could have developed those symptoms, and that it might be legionella, should take the precaution of seeing their GP.

“In the meantime, please be assured that this council is doing everything it can to remedy the issue.”

The first known outbreak of legionnaires' disease was at a convention for ex-service personnel in Philadelphia, USA, in 1976.

A total of 221 people then contracted the disease and 34 died. The majority of those were legionnaires, hence the name of the illness.

People of any age can contract legionnaires' disease, but it most often affects middle-aged and older people, particularly smokers or people who suffer from chronic lung disease.

Outbreaks of the condition have mostly occurred after victims have breathed mists that come from a water source, such as air conditioning cooling towers, whirlpool spas, or showers, contaminated with the legionella bacteria.


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