Legionella bacteria found in water system of Ramsgate school

A local Kent newspaper has reproted,

A Ramsgate school has confirmed legionella bacteria were found in its water systems.

Despite claims a member of staff fell ill because of the problem, The Chatham House and Clarendon Grammar School has said the bacteria were found “following routine water system checks”.

A water quality consultant reported finding samples of the bacteria during an annual inspection at its premises in July, the school said.

Business manager Chris Freeman confirmed it was found in areas located within Chatham House, lower school site, and Clarendon House, upper school site.

Mr Freeman said: “Legionella bacteria was only located in areas used by staff – the areas used by students are not affected – students health is not at risk.

“Following receipt of the report, site staff immediately disconnected the infected areas from the water systems and placed signs within the infected areas advising staff not to use the taps in these areas.”

The following week, the water quality consultant undertook a complete cleanse and disinfecting of all the water systems throughout the school, even areas that showed a negative result.

Mr Freeman said the school’s water systems were drained, cleansed and disinfected between July 25 and 28.

He added: “The school immediately notified both Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive as it is a requirement when legionella is detected.”

He added that further checks will be carried out at the end of September 2016.

He said: “I would like to reassure parents, students and staff that the areas detected, pose an extremely low risk to public health and that only areas of the school used by staff were found to have been infected.

“Public Health England has confirmed that there have been no cases of legionnaires disease associated with this incident.

However, a concerned parent who did not wish to be named said the school should have notified parents and students about the findings.

In a letter to the Gazette, a parent said: “As a parent, I am sickened that no information has been given to parents of children at the school.

“It was only upon hearing my son’s account – who overheard a conversation between two members of staff – and receiving confirmation from a member of the school’s staff and a member of the senior management team that I received confirmation that this is the case.”

The parent alleged that no information was given to staff until one member of staff reportedly fell ill, and another was suspected of contracting the virus.

“An email, a copy of which I have recently seen, was sent around to staff on the final week of the term confirming that legionella had, in fact, been discovered,” the parent added.

However, Mr Freeman dismissed the allegations and reiterated there were no legionnaires cases associated with the incident – a fact confirmed by the Public Health England.

A spokesman for Public Health England said: “We are aware of the incident and can confirm that there have been no legionnaires cases associated with the incident.

He said: “We understand that appropriate control measures are being implemented by the school authorities.

“Legionella bacteria are widely distributed in the environment and are commonly found in artificial water sources such as cooling systems, domestic water systems, and spa pools. People become infected when they inhale legionella bacteria as airborne particles arising from a contaminated source.

“Employers and service providers are required to identify and mitigate the risks of legionella from environmental exposure to employees and the public.”

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