Posted: 11/05/2020

Closed retailers warned about Legionnaires’ disease threat

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reminded food businesses that have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic of the increased risk of Legionella bacteria – which can cause a form of pneumonia – when they reopen.

Legionella pneumophila can develop in stagnant water in pipework

When water is allowed to stagnate in pipe and tank systems in properties that are left vacant, there is an increased risk of this bacteria spreading.

The FSA has advised that hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain flow and reduce the chance of the Legionnaires’ disease-causing pathogen from developing. 

A spokesperson for the agency said: “To manage the risks during non-occupancy, businesses should consider implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.”

Also known as legionellosis, Legionnaires’ disease, is a form of pneumonia. Signs and symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pains, and headaches, as well as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

For more information about the risks of Legionella and how to mitigate them, visit the HSE webpage here.

Read more news in May’s edition of Fine Food Digest

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