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NWHHS routine water quality testing returns a positive Legionella result

NWHHS routine water quality testing returns a positive Legionella result

2021-07-27 12:57:18

NWHHS routine water quality testing returns a positive Legionella result

9th October 2020

North West Hospital and Health Service routine water quality testing returns positive Legionella result  

The North West Hospital and Health Service has completed the latest round of routine quarterly water quality testing at inpatient facilities.

North West Health Service Acting Chief Executive, Dr Karen Murphy said while the majority of tests carried out for a number of organisms were all within standards, low levels of Legionella bacteria had been detected in eight of the 11 NWHHS facilities.

Dr Murphy said the bacteria had been found at McKinlay, Mornington Island, Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Burketown, Normanton, Dajarra, and Mount Isa health facilities.

 The detections have been made in some patient areas, including shower heads and a drinking fountain, with all sources isolated until flushed and retested. Patients have been redirected to non-affected facilities until retesting concludes.

“We conduct quarterly testing at our sites to assure the ongoing water quality in our health facilities, and this regular testing has allowed us to pick up on these changes,” she said.       

“It is not uncommon for Legionella to be detected in our facilities’ water samples from time to time as Legionella occurs naturally and is widely distributed in the environment. We believe this positive result in some taps may have been caused by stagnating water in areas that were used less due to COVID-19.

Dr Murphy said immediate action had been taken in accordance with the health service’s Water Quality Risk Management Plan as soon as the positive results from the latest round of testing were received.

“The water supply systems in these areas will undergo a flushing program until retesting on October 13, and affected tapware will be replaced according to standard protocols for removing the Legionella bacteria,” she said. “The affected areas will then be retested and will not be returned to use until testing has shown the Legionella bacteria have been cleared. We will also increase our scheduled flushing in these areas to accommodate for periods of no use, such as the weekend.”

Dr Murphy said a positive Legionella detection does not automatically equate to a health risk. 

“The bacteria must be inhaled in the form of water droplets to have any chance of being infectious,’’ she said.

“Legionellosis is a very rare infection. These results allow us to carry out water quality maintenance to ensure that the risks to our patients remain low into the future.”


Media contact:

NWHHS Public Relations