This Editor's Comment is from our July/August 2019 issue.

As you may have spotted on our cover, HVP is 40 years old this month. However, I’m not going to get into into the ins and outs of the achievement here, so you should head to p39 for our impressive multi-page feature, which casts an illuminating eye over the last four decades of the publication.

Instead, I’m going to talk about something more important, legionella. The bacteria is the cause of Legionnaires’ disease – a potentially fatal type of pneumonia, contracted by inhaling airborne water droplets containing legionella bacteria. Someone performing an everyday activity as mundane as taking a shower could, through sheer bad luck and shoddy pipework, end up contracting the disease.

As many of you will be aware, legionella bacteria multiply where temperatures are between 20-45°c, and nutrients are available. The bacteria are dormant below 20°c and do not survive above 60°c. Therefore, the most effective way to tackle it is through temperature control.

The reason I’m highlighting the threat of legionella is the risk it still presents in this day and age. Public Health England’s Monthly Legionella Report monitors and tracks legionella infection cases in England and Wales. 

Its June 2019 report is particularly eye opening, with 53 cases reported in that month alone, and the number of confirmed Legionnaires’ disease cases since 1 January 2019 now sitting at a grand total of 156.

On p60, we spoke to several experts across the sector about the scale of the challenge and what the industry can and should do. Awareness is a good starting point but, when lives are at stake, more needs to be done.