Preventing Legionnaires’ Disease

How maintaining your air conditioning system is the key to preventing Legionnaires’ Disease

Hyatt at the Bellevue, Philadelphia: scene of the first Legionnaires' Disease outbreak.
40 years ago, this was the scene of the world’s first Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak. Today, it is now the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Image by Beyond My Ken, Creative Commons License 2.0: Attribution.

Philadelphia, 21 July 1976: in the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, the American Legion opened its three-day convention. Philadelphia was chosen as 1976 was the bicentenary of the signing of the US Declaration of Independence in the said city. 2,000 veterans were present. Three days after, some of its delegates were reporting muscle pains, diarrhoea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite. Within a week, 130 people were hospitalised, with 25 dying. By 1977, the aforementioned characteristics would be part and parcel of what is known as Legionnaires’ Disease.

Following an investigation in January 1977, the bacterium came from the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel’s HVAC system. It was found as having characteristics similar to pneumonia and influenza. The bacteria was known as Legionella, owing to its first instance. Subsequently, air conditioning and heating systems all over the world were checked to avoid further outbreaks.

Thankfully, events like the first outbreak are a rare occurrence. Most recently, a faulty HVAC system at the Forum28 theatre, Barrow-in-Furness, infected 172 people with seven deaths. This led to Barrow Borough Council facing corporate manslaughter charges. For legionnaires’ disease, this was the second worst outbreak in the United Kingdom, and the seventh worst outbreak in the world.

Prevention, Prevention, Prevention

As detailed in the previous two cases, keeping your air conditioning and heating system is more than a must. It is part of the employer’s duty to maintain a safe working environment. In communal spaces, it is of great importance for your visitors. As Legionnaires’ Disease can is airborne, any presence of Legionella in the HVAC system can be lethal. The bacterium thrives in its stagnant warm water.

Your air conditioning system should be serviced every year, without fail. Whether or not it is in working order. We at ST Maintenance Solutions offer planned maintenance packages. If for example, you asked us to check your air con system on the 26 October 2016, we could return on the same date in 2017 then in 2018 and thereafter.

Plus, you may choose to upgrade your existing system. Possibly for one that is more cost-effective and energy-efficient. Whether you need to upgrade or enable us to service your existing HVAC system, we shall offer you a free no-obligation quote.

If you have any further queries, why not telephone us on 0161 279 0137. Alternatively, you may email us via We will be delighted to help you.

ST Maintenance Solutions, 26 September 2016.

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