Fifth worker diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after outbreak: Health investigation continues

Faltec Europe Ltd
Faltec Europe Ltd

Health experts are still trying to establish how a fifth worker at a factory was struck down by Legionnaires’ disease – more than a month after he contracted the potentially deadly bug.

Faltec Europe Ltd, in Boldon, was forced to shut down four cooling towers by the Health and Safety Executive last June after significant levels of the bacteria were found on site.

The investigation is continuing into the source of the infection

Public Health England spokesman

The discovery came after four workers at the factory and a resident whose home overlooks the site on Boldon Business Park, required hospital treatment for Legionnaires’ disease between October 2014 and May of last year.

A fresh probe was sparked in December after an agency worker was diagnosed with the condition.

He has since been discharged from hospital - but Public Health England (PHE) is still to identify the source of the latest case.

A prohibition notice slapped on Faltec by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was lifted in September after safety improvements were put in place.

The HSE carried out a visit to the firm after the worker contracted the bug, while PHE said it was investigating all possible sources of the infection – including the man’s place of work.

PHE staff are looking into all of the possible places the man could have been infected, as part of an exhaustive process of elimination.

They say the probe, being carried out alongside the HSE and South Tyneside Council’s environmental health team, is ongoing.

Legionnaires’ disease is a rare form of pneumonia caused when someone breathes in air that contains legionella bacteria in droplets of water. It does not spread from person to person, but is contracted through contaminated water.

Faltec has a workforce of nearly 500 people and makes components for the car industry.

PHE has confirmed that the worker is now recovering at home after being released from hospital.

No new cases of Legionnaires’ disease in connection with the probe have been reported since.

A PHE spokesman said; “The person with Legionnaires’ disease has been discharged from hospital and is now recovering at home.

“No further cases have been reported and the investigation is continuing into the source of the infection.”