Deadly bug risk in Derry sport venues

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The discovery of a potentially deadly bacteria forced the closure of two Derry CIty Council facilities last week.

The local authority has confirmed that the levels of Legionella bacteria found in the City Baths at William Street and Brandywell Sports Centre posed an “elevated risk” to public health.

A source said council staff were told that the “most deadly strain” of Legionella was discovered in the Brandywell Sports Centre and that it was located in pipes linked to the main water tank. The council has not denied this was the case.

The two facilities were closed on Monday and Tuesday last as a precautionary measure while further sampling and treatment of the sites were carried out. A further case of high risk bacteria was discovered at Prehen changing pavillion.

A spokesperson for Derry City Council said the problems were discovered following tests at around 90 local authority facilities as part of council’s bacterial control programme.

“The sampling results indicated that levels of bacteria, from isolated areas of three facilities, presented an elevated risk. As a precautionary measure these facilities were temporarily closed. This is in accordance with council’s risk prevention policy to allow for treatment works and further sampling,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that Prehen changing pavilion was not closed as there “was no public scheduled activity”. The spokesperson said “a rigorous and robust bacterial risk assessment, sampling, testing and treatment regime” is in place across all of Derry City Council facilities. “This regime is in compliance with council’s risk prevention policy.”

Legionella is the bacteria which causes Legionaires Disease, a potentially fatal respiratory infection.