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Experts voice fresh fears over legionella mutation

Experts have been expressing concern this week over worrying developments in Legionnaires’ disease.

In addition to issues such as poor diagnosis by doctors and lack of effective procedures to prevent the disease, it is now claimed the legionella bacteria is mutating.

The claims follow discovery of the existence of the bacteria at temperatures of greater than 50 deg C.

It is currently believed by industry that 50 deg C is sufficient to kill legionella.

Furthermore, resistance to biocides has also been observed, providing yet more cause for concern.

The latest announcements follow last year’s announcements expressing concern about the disease.

These were made when the bacteria was discovered in areas such as compost heaps, car windscreen wash reservoirs and dental establishments.

With estimates currently indicating that 9,000 people contract Legionnaire’s disease each year in the UK, these announcements suggest that urgent action needs to be taken.

TV medic Dr Hilary Jones has also added his voice in support of more effective action to address the problem, highlighting ventilation and air-conditioning systems as problem areas, along with taps and shower heads.

He emphasises the importance of the government’s ACOP L8 guidance to establish procedures to prevent infection, but questions whether current methods are sufficiently effective.

Dr Tom Makin, co-author of both the HSE’s and the Department of Health’s advisory publications, believes 90 per cent of UK cases of Legionnaire’s disease go unreported.