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Ready for Re-opening?

Posted by Chloe on Apr 28, 2021 9:23:13 AM

Due to factors such as system stagnation, thermal gain, biofilm formation and increased susceptibility to secondary infections, it is absolutely crucial that mothballed sites are recommissioned properly to minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ disease after lockdown.

If recommissioning is not carried out with care, we may see disastrous levels of Legionella risk and no doubt, some really serious outbreaks - which can put a huge additional burden on public health and can cause lasting damage to businesses that have already suffered during the on-going pandemic. 

In an article in The TimesProfessor Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, warned that potentially deadly Legionella bacteria will have been growing in factories and other businesses during this period of closure. He cautioned that if this is the case, then these facilities can expect a Legionella outbreak, if not several, when they start re-opening.

When recommissioning mothballed sites, the key issues are speed and safety. However, traditional methods of Legionella testing, like laboratory culture, are time-consuming and can create significant delays when re-opening – especially where several rounds of remedial work are needed to bring a system or location back to safety.

Accelerating Recommissioning with Hydrosense

At the start of the pandemic Legionella experts at Hydrosense Ltd reached out to water management professionals across the globe to find out how long the recommissioning process actually took. 

Bearing in mind that several rounds of work were not only possible but expected. They found that two rounds of flushing and sampling would take around 16-30 days when carried out with lab culture testing only.

Flush and Sample 

However, when the Hydrosense rapid antigen test was used, two rounds of flushing and sampling could be reduced down to only two days. When looking at a full mains or system disinfection, time savings were just as dramatic.

With lab culture only, 2 rounds of full mains or system disinfection would take around 28-35 days to complete whereas with Hydrosense, this process could be reduced down to 7 working days.

Full (mains) or Single System Disinfection (DC _ HWS)

Timelines for accelerated recommissioning with Hydrosense do not include the time needed to carryout normal safety checks before re-opening, such as running a lab culture test in parallel for legal reasons. You should check your local legislation or guidance to see what safety checks are needed in your region before re-opening.

Hydrosense's ultra-rapid test can give your company the edge over competitors when it comes to speed of recommissioning by reducing time waited for results before and after recommissioning work. 

Paul Abbott at Surevent UK Ltd recently used the Hydrosense rapid test to recommission 300 sites for one of the UK's largest mobile and broadband providers. Here's what he had to say...

“We needed to disinfect, flush and sample all properties in two weeks. Hydrosense gave us the edge with a faster turn-around time and allowed the building to be opened faster and more safely. Hydrosense kits can be used for peace of mind whilst we await the lab results and is invaluable during our current circumstances.” - Paul Abbott, Surevent UK Ltd.

Read our case study with Surevent UK 

Risk Reduction Doesn't Stop with Recommissioning
Unfortunately, testing for Legionella can’t stop with the recommissioning process as there is evidence to suggest that susceptibility to secondary infections like Legionnaires’ disease has increased as a result of the pandemic.
While the connection between COVID-19 infection and increased risk to secondary infections may seem fairly obvious, emerging data suggests that the psychological impact of nation-wide lockdowns may also affect susceptibility to COVID-19 and secondary infections.
Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, has produced a body of research that looks at the psychological implications of COVID-19 on vulnerability to respiratory illnesses. His findings suggest that COVID-19 related interpersonal stressors could lead to higher susceptibility to coronavirus and other respiratory infections.
His work highlights the importance of stressors like loneliness, loss of employment and familial conflict in regulating immune response during the coronavirus pandemic, showing that there is a relationship between interpersonal stressors and the chance of developing upper respiratory illnesses.
As businesses and other facilities continue to open up following lockdown, business owners and duty holders should be aware that their customers and employees may be more vulnerable to infection than ever before.
Introducing additional safety measures will be fundamental for keeping both workers and the general public safe, not only from coronavirus but also from secondary infections. Preventative controls, like Legionella testing, should be taken to protect people - especially those most vulnerable because of age, heavy smoking or drinking, underlying health problems and increased susceptibility due to COVID-19 and related stressors. 
We advice companies to take a proactive approach which goes beyond box ticking. Consider integrating non-culture based rapid testing methods into your water quality plan.
Some of you may already be aware that the traditional laboratory culture test cannot detect VBNC Legionella (a dormant form of Legionella bacteria which can resuscitate once system conditions improve, often after remedial work, and reinfect systems).
There have been recent cases of reinfection where the Legionella responsible had been laying dormant in the systems for up to 2 years without being stopped by the traditional laboratory culture test. Hydrosense can detect VBNC and can help duty holders detect a risk which would otherwise be invisible, contributing to higher standard of water management and mitigating future problems which may arise further down the line.

Topics: Legionella, Legionnaires Disease, Hydrosense news, Legionella monitoring and control, Legionella on-site testing, Legionella Risk Assessment, Legionella Self-Test, Legionella Testing, Legionella testing kit, Legionella Rapid Test, Water Management, Water Safety, Health and Safety, LegionellaRiskAssessment, Legionella Rapid Testing, Water, Hydrosense, COVID-19, Recommissioning, saferwithhydrosense, Biofilm Testing, Antigen Testing, Lateral Flow Test, Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, Hydrosense Pro

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