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Legionnaires’ disease found in birthing pool

Public Health England and NHS England are temporarily advising against the use of pools which have built-in heaters and recirculation pumps and can be filled up two weeks before the birth, the Express & Star has reported.

The alert comes after a case of the Legionnaires’ lung disease was identified in a baby born in the specific type of birthing pool at home.

The child is in intensive care in hospital. It is the first reported case of Legionnaires’ disease linked to a birthing pool in England, PHE said.

Samples taken from the birthing pool used confirmed the presence of legionella bacteria, which causes the disease.

Experts are carrying out tests to establish if it is the same strain as that which infected the baby.

NHS England issued a Patient Safety Alert to notify the healthcare system and midwives in particular of the possible risk associated with the use of the heated birthing pools at home.

The alert recommends that heated birthing pools are not used for labour or birth. A full risk assessment is being carried out in the meantime.

Heated pools from the supplier involved in the incident have been recalled, PHE said. There are around 10 firms which supply the specific pools and each have between two and 14, which they loan out.

The pools are typically delivered around a fortnight before the expected delivery date and filled from the domestic hot water supply.

The temperature is then maintained by a pump and heater until labour and delivery, with the companies recommending various disinfection regimes.

PHE said the majority of birthing pools used at home are filled from domestic hot water systems at the time of labour and these do not pose the same risk and are not included in the alert.

Legionnaires’ disease is extremely rare in children, with only one case in youngsters aged up to nine in England between 1990 and 2011.

Patients become infected with the bacteria through inhalation of contaminated water droplets. The infection does not spread from person to person.

The disease is a severe form of pneumonia which affects around 350 to 400 people each year in England and Wales. The majority of cases involve older patients.

Midwives and every local authority in the country are being contacted to see if they use the specific pools provided by any of the companies that supply them.

The 11th Annual Combatting Legionella & Water Treatment conference, will take place on 24-25 September at Holte Suite, Aston Villa Park, Birmingham. The event will provide a comprehensive and cutting-edge conference that will ensure engineering and facilities management teams are able to prevent legionella bacteria and comply with water safety regulation.

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