Legionella has been detected 43 times in the water of several health facilities in Mackay
Legionella has been detected 43 times in the water of several health facilities in Mackay Crystal Jones

Legionella detected at Mackay health facilities

LEGIONELLA has been detected 43 times in the water of several health facilities in Mackay.

According to data published by Queensland Health, between January 1 and June 30, the deadly bacteria was detected in the water of the Icon Cancer Centre, Mackay Base Hospital, Mackay Community Health and Breast Screen Centre, Mater Misericodiae Hospital and the Mackay Specialist Day Hospital.

Despite legionella being detected in the water, Director of Public and Environmental Health Brigid Fenech said to-date in 2018, there had been no cases of legionella related diseases reported in the Mackay Hospital and Health Service.

Ms Fenech said the organism can exist in the plumbing of your home or work and grow readily in tepid water.

It is also commonly associated with potting mixes and garden soil.

The bacteria can cause a serious infection known as legionnaires' disease.

The risk of developing the illness is very low for healthy people, however, the elderly and sick are at greater risk.

Ms Fenech said the presence of legionella in water did not mean the bacteria would spread to patients, however, the potential for exposure should be managed.

"We manage and identify hazards associated with our water systems by conducting regulatory quarterly testing," she said.

"We report legionella water sample results to the chief executive of Queensland Health as part of our Water Risk Management Plan."

On February 1, 2017, the Queensland Government introduced new laws forcing hospitals, private health facilities and aged care centres to regularly test water sources for bacteria in an attempt to reduce the number of legionella-related illnesses.

So far in 2018, 47 cases of legionnaires' disease have been reported in Queensland compared to 65 cases in 2017.