Samples taken from the heated birthing pool at the home where the baby was born, have confirmed the presence of legionella bacteria. Further tests will establish if it is the same strain that infected the baby.
The majority of birthing pools used at home are filled from domestic hot water systems at the time of labour – these birthing pools do not pose the same risk level and are therefore excluded from this alert.
The higher risk levels occur with heated birthing pools filled in advance of labour and where the water temperature is kept constant by a heater and a pump. The heated pools from the supplier involved in this incident have been recalled.
This is the first reported case of Legionnaires’ disease linked to a birthing pool in England, although two cases were reported internationally some years ago.
There is no call from the authorities to stop the use of birthing pools within hospitals as Health Trusts will already routinely sample and monitor their on-site birthing pools for Legionella and Pseudomonas bacteria, as a part of their on-going monitoring programmes.