Legionnaires outbreak in hospital blamed on ‘climate smart’ program

The Brisbane Times reports:

Concerns have been raised about the safety of thousands of hot water systems following the outbreak of legionnaires’ disease at Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital.

The bacteria were found in taps at the hospital and an electrical engineer has linked the outbreak to a now-defunct state government energy efficiency program.

The electrician, who worked on the government’s Climate Smart program, said the hot water system at the Wesley was reduced to 50 degrees to save power.

He claims the government ignored warnings the move could encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.

The man, who didn’t want to be named, fears thousands of households and public buildings could also be at risk.
The outbreak has killed one patient, and a second patient is being treated in intensive care.

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/legionnaires-could-be-linked-to-climate-smart-program-engineer-20130607-2nvmi.html

10 thoughts on “Legionnaires outbreak in hospital blamed on ‘climate smart’ program”

  1. This does seem rather a twofer, if you take the government funding perspective. Save money on the gas bill and you get the bonus of ending the medical bills and pension costs of a few unfortunates in hospital. A bit tough on them though. Eh, gotta break a few eggs to save a planet…..

  2. Flush the piping with boiling water? Either not much piping or someone hasn’t done the heat loss calc’s if they want to keep it at about 100. Better yet, why not hypochlorite (bleach), which is used to sterilize new water wells?

  3. What “now-defunct state government energy efficiency program” are they talking about? Did the government actually tell them to reduce hot water that is used in surgery to 50 degrees? I doubt it. Why don’t the hospitals test any water used in operating rooms or to scrub patients, for bacteria on regular basis, and why wouldn’t they clean the pipes with ozonation or cloridization?

  4. There’s worse news Jim. Shower jets that are not “water-saving” cannot be fitted legally in the State of Victoria, Australia. Thus the pressure is reduced. As my plumber said: “Why not step out of the shower a bit sooner education?” Less pressure means less bugs washed away and dirtier people. Anyway – bugger them (can I say that?) – I use a bath, and choose my own depth and length of stay.

  5. Yes, unfortunately, the previous Labor Government of Queensland, a left wing mob, in their ‘Climate Smart’ initiative, made it mandatory that hot water in taps could be no hotter than 48 degrees C. The ideal temperature, they stated, should be between 42 and 45 degrees C. Apparently, according to the hospital administrators and the Health Department, this lower temperature was the cause of the Legionnaire’s outbreak.

  6. The American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is finishing up on revisions to a Standard 188 and Guideline 12 which has information on Prevention of Legionellosis associated with building water systems. There is also a lot of information in the website: http://www.LegioellaPrevetion.org

  7. Ron, people should also look at this webpage which addresses some of the myths it appears the Wesley Hospital has bought into about this subject.
    http://www.LegionellaPrevention.org/Myths/Myths.htm
    Tragic that in the misguided emphasis on saving energy, lives are needlessly sacrificed. We all know that the people at the energy utilities touting measures to save electricity and gas frequently seem to have little knowledge about this and other health and safety subjects.

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