After we receive unconfirmed reports about the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease at County Hall, we ask 'what is it and how do you catch it?'

Legionnaires' disease is a lung infection you can get from inhaling droplets of water from things like air conditioning or hot tubs.

As previously reported, County Hall in Worcester - where Worcestershire County Council is based - is closed today. 

Worcestershire County Council is yet to confirm the cause and give further details but staff received an email saying the closure is because of a positive test for Legionella at County Hall.

Legionella is a type of bacteria which causes Legionnaires' disease.

They have been told as a precaution County Hall will be closed with immediate effect as a precaution. Staff are to work from home until further notice.

Staff are only allowed on site to collect items if they are of 'critical importance' to the running of the organisation.

There is due to be a staff briefing on Wednesday.

According to the NHS  the disease is uncommon but 'it can be very serious'. The following details are made available by the NHS.

How you get Legionnaires' disease

You can get Legionnaires' disease if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection.

It's usually caught in places like hotels, hospitals or offices where the bacteria have got into the water supply. It's less common to catch it at home.

You can get Legionnaires' disease from things like:

  • air conditioning systems
  • humidifiers
  • spa pools and hot tubs
  • taps and showers that are not used often

You cannot usually get it from:

  • drinking water that contains the bacteria
  • other people with the infection
  • places like ponds, lakes and rivers

Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease include:

  • a cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or discomfort, particularly when breathing or coughing
  • a high temperature
  • flu-like symptoms

Urgent advice:

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if you have symptoms of Legionnaires' disease such as:

  • a cough that's lasted 3 weeks or more
  • coughing up blood
  • chest pain that comes and goes, or happens when breathing or coughing
  • feeling short of breath
  • Tell them where you've been in the last 10 days, such as if you stayed in a hotel, spa or hospital.


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Treatment for Legionnaires' disease

You may need to go into hospital if you're diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.

Treatment in hospital may include:

  • antibiotics given directly into a vein
  • oxygen through a face mask or tubes in your nose
  • a machine to help you breathe

When you start to get better you might be able to take antibiotic tablets at home. Antibiotic treatment usually lasts 1 to 3 weeks.

Most people make a full recovery, but it might take a few weeks to feel back to normal.