Fears that bacteria which can cause Legionnaire’s Disease found in hospital

All-clear at North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital. Picture: Google Maps

All-clear at North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

Fears have been raised that bacteria which can cause Legionnaire's Disease has been discovered in a shower at a Norfolk hospital.

Inspections have identified a possible legionella contamination at North Walsham and District War Memorial hospital.

That bacteria can cause the lung infection Legionnaire's Disease, also known as legionellosis.

Droplets of water which contain the bacteria can cause the infection if they are breathed in.

The discovery has prompted Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) to close all washing facilities at the hospital.

Beth Kimber, head of infection prevention and control at NCH&C, said: "Routine testing of water within our inpatient units has revealed the possible presence of legionella in the shower of a side room at North Walsham Hospital on Friday.

"As a precautionary measure all washing facilities were closed and alternative methods for washing were put in place along with bottled water given to patients for drinking.

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"The shower has now been fully disinfected and further sampling across the hospital is being undertaken over the next few days. Filters are being placed on all water outlets to enable the hospital to return to normal.

"Whilst the risk of contracting Legionnaires Disease is extremely low, patient safety is always our priority, which is why we implemented robust measures as soon as the initial sample was received.

"At this time, no-one has shown any symptoms of Legionellosis which cannot be spread from person to person. We will continue to monitor the situation over the course of the incubation period of ten days."

Legionnaire's Disease is a severe form of pneumonia. Information provided by the NHS says that for people who are healthy the risk of contracting it is extremely low.

However, it is increased for men over 50 and for individuals whose immune system is suppressed and smokers.

The symptoms of Legionnaire's Disease are a flu-like illness, muscle aches, tiredness, headaches, a dry cough, high fever and sometimes diarrhoea and confusion.

The hospital's website states that patients have access to expert rehabilitation and care within a modern, 24-bed ward. The outpatient unit also includes a physiotherapy suite.