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31 March 2023: Legionella bacteria found in water in a Joensuu hotel

Press release 31 March 2023

Legionella bacteria levels exceeding the permitted limits have been found in Hotel Scandic Joensuu in the water of the shower of one of the hotel rooms. The collection of samples had been requested by the National Institute for Health and Welfare on 21 March 2023 because one person had been diagnosed with a Legionella infection after having stayed in the hotel. Preliminary tests on the samples were completed on Thursday, 29 March. More samples were taken from the property’s water supply system on 30 March and their results will be received in about one week’s time.

The hotel guests and the facilities served by the same water system will be informed about the matter with separate notices from the hotel and the owner of the property.

As an immediate measure, the room concerned and the rooms adjacent to it are no longer in use and the temperature of hot water has been raised in the whole property. Raising the temperature is usually sufficient to reduce the Legionella concentrations to a harmless level. The flushing of the showers and other water outlets has also begun.

Legionella bacteria occur in small quantities also in freshwaters in nature and in the soil. They can multiply in water systems if the temperature of the water between 20 and 45 degrees.

Legionella bacteria may cause pneumonias called Legionnaires’ diseases. Although Legionella bacteria are relatively common microbes in our living environment, most of the people exposed to them never develop legionellosis. The likelihood of developing the disease and the risk of a severe disease are increased by underlying diseases, an advanced age and smoking.

The Legionella bacterium does not spread from person to person or through drinking water but is transmitted through inhalation of aerosols from water.

The symptoms of legionellosis include a dry cough, fever, headache, muscle pain and shortness of breath. The symptoms may also include chest pain and abdominal pain. The incubation period from infection to the first symptoms is 2 to 10 days.

Siun sote's environmental health services, which is the health protection authority, continues to investigate the matter together with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

Siun sote will communicate more information about the matter after the tests on the samples have been completed.