Legionella Testing For Hotels
Legionnaires’ disease was first discovered in 1976 in Philadelphia when an outbreak occurred in a hotels water supply, infecting over 130 people. 40 people lost their lives during the course of the outbreak and to this day, hotels and resorts continue to be the number one setting for outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, causing 44% of all cases in the USA. 1.
ECDC reports that every year, over 1000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are correlated back to the hotel industry. Legal claims associated with Legionnaires’ disease can be significant and can cause extensive financial and reputational damage to a hotel and a regions tourism sector in general.2
Factors Affecting Increased Legionella Risks Associated with Hotels
- Generation of Aerosols-While Legionnaires’ disease can be caught from any water source that produces spray or aerosols, the most common sources of infection in a hotel setting are showers, pools and spas, hot tubs, cooling towers, air-conditioning units and even ice machines.
- Warm climates – Many hotels and holiday resorts are located in climates that support and encourage rapid growth of Legionella bacteria. Temperatures ranging anywhere between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius can provide Legionella with optimal conditions for rapid growth3 and can increase the risk of an outbreak occurring.
- Stagnant Water – Many hotels have empty rooms. Depending on the region, this could be for only a few days or for months during the off-peak season. Stagnant water in the pipes serving unused water systems can encourage the growth of scale, sludge and amoeba which protect Legionella and provide the bug with nutrients – thus accelerating its growth and spread.
- Design– Complicated, old pipework with dead legs also pose a threat, as they too provide ideal conditions for the formation of scale, sludge and amoeba which support rapid Legionella growth and spread. This is a serious problem in ageing facilities or newly renovated facilities where schematics of old and new pipework may not be up to date or complete. Failure to keep an up to date schematic can compromise the facilities risk assessment and leave high-risk areas in the system unmonitored.
- Water management – If pools, hot tubs, water parks and water features are not properly maintained, bacteria can multiply in the biofilms. 4 These high-risk areas need to be properly cleaned and treated or microorganisms will quickly multiply. Hot tubs are of particular concern as they have the ability to spread Legionella over large distances. It is important that pools, spas, water features and hot tubs are properly treated with biocides and that biocides are alternated frequently to avoid bacteria becoming resistant.
- Traditional Testing Methods – Duty holders in hotels are often advised to send samples of water to a laboratory. This a well-known, traditional method for Legionella testing, however, researchers have recently found some disturbing limitations of this technique.
Click Here to Find Out More About Limitations of the Lab Culture Test
Remember that it is simply not enough to rely solely on the culture test. Doing so can lead to false negative results, underestimated counts of Legionella bacteria, slow decision making and delayed action – resulting in fines, reputational damage, illness and even fatalities.
How to manage the risk of Legionella in Hotels?
It is incredibly hard to eradicate Legionella from a water system completely but there are steps which can be taken to reduce growth and spread dramatically. Temperature controls, the use of biocides, and regular monitoring and maintenance will help to ensure the safety of water systems. In hotels, it is also strongly recommended that vacant rooms are cleaned and tested regularly, especially after off-peak season. However, using traditional methods for Legionella testing can be cumbersome, time-consuming (it takes 10 to 14 days to provide the results) and often inaccurate.
This is why Hydrosense developed an innovative range of rapid Legionella Test Kits which allow for the detection of Legionella in only 25 minutes.
The Hydrosense test provides accurate results on-site, without expert assistance, so it is simple to monitor between regulatory quarterly checks. If there is a problem, it is immediately identified, and prompt remedial action can be taken – protecting clients, staff and the public. Using the test can also help to protect your reputation and your business from public liability claims. Additionally, test results can be stored and managed via the Hydrosense Smartphone App and a certificate of completion can also be printed from the secure Hydrosense Pro Portal.
The Hydrosense test is an incredibly useful tool in the hotel industry and provides a simple and fast check for risk areas such as showers, hot tubs and conditioning units. Its speed allows for quick remedial action so that water systems can be treated immediately, and rooms made available to guests in good time. Remember: Legionnaires’ disease is now killing ~1 in every 10 people who are infected 5.
Legionella- Don’t risk it. Test it.
Our Single Syringe Test Kit is both flexible and sensitive – it allows for sample collection from any water source and has an excellent Limit of Detection of 100 CFU/L.
Larger facilities such as hotels with many high-risk areas can benefit from using the Industrial Kit.
- Garrison, L., Kunz, J., Cooley, L., Moore, M., Lucas, C., Schrag, S., Sarisky, J. and Whitney, C. (2016). Vital Signs: Deficiencies in Environmental Control Identified in Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease — North America, 2000–2014. [online] Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6522e1.htm[Accessed 12 Oct. 2018].
- Anon, (2016). Check List for Hotels and other Accommodation Sites including Hostels. 2016. [online] Available at: https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/legionellosis/guidance/File,1816,en.pdf[Accessed 12 Oct. 2018].
- Rogers, J., Dowsett, A., Dennis, P., Lee, J. and Keevil, C. (n.d.). Influence of temperature and plumbing material selection on biofilm formation and growth of Legionella pneumophila in a model potable water system containing complex microbial flora.. [online] Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Available at: http://aem.asm.org/content/60/5/1585.full.pdf+html[Accessed 12 Oct. 2018].
- CDC.gov. (2018). 1 in 3 swimming-related disease outbreaks occur at hotels | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0517-swimming-related-diseases.html[Accessed 12 Oct. 2018].
- CDC.gov. (2018). Legionnaires Disease and Pontiac Fever | Legionella | CDC. [online] Available at: https://www. cdc.gov/legionella/ [Accessed 30 May 2018].