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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Live in Kent, boat in Canary Islands
    Posts
    16,247

    Exclamation Disinfecting Shower Heads

    When did you last disinfect your shower head?

    As some of you may know, I've been in hospital with pneumonia. Soon after being released my CRP blood test had climbed back to 85: normal is under 10 (on admittance to hospital it was over 300, down to 25 when they released me).

    Ten years ago my wife and I were both infected by Legionella in a spa hotel. Because they had overbooked, on the first night they put us in a rarely used room, at the time I was sure this is where the infection occurred, from the shower head.

    After trying six other types, I am now on a more powerful antibiotic (Ciproxin) which is one that is used for Legionella (and Antrax). I seem to be getting better, it is possible that this was Legionella again.

    I became unwell two weeks after arriving on my boat, the first visit for several months. We arrived late at night, I wanted a shower, and I had removed the light fitting on the previous trip. I didn't disinfect the shower head. I would normally do this by removing it, putting it in the basin with some citric acid to descale it, then rinse and soak in a bleach solution. When the calorifier has heated up, fit the shower head to the hose, hold the head under the bleach water (to avoid generating spray droplets), and turn the shower on at the maximum temperature.

    This could all be a coincidence, but I urge you to read up on this subject, here is the HSE guideline.
    Last edited by nigelmercier; 04-07-16 at 15:34.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    up on the moors.
    Posts
    32,801

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    NM

    I hope you are back on the road to full recovery, and thanks for highlighting a potential problem for boat owners.


    The risks of legionnaires on boats are small but the consequences are significant.

    I suspect that

    the temperature of water aboard is generally not as high as on shore, nor sustained for as long a time

    our tanks and supply can be a source ( algae and other biological material) of food for bacteria

    people are in closer proximity to each other in a warm environment with high Rel Humidity

    very few owners disinfect the hot water system

    our water usage on board is much lower than ashore, so reduced throughput and sometimes stagnation

    some of the plastics and fittings used for boats' pipework may not be not compliant with e.g. house standards.




    What to do reduce the risks. ?

    Avoid keeping water at between 25 and 45 C, the best temp for breeding water-borne bugs.

    Chemically disinfect the pipework and tankage using bleach (chlorine) with a contact time of at least an hour

    Thermally disinfect the taps and showers with hot water (60c ish)

    Inspect water tanks for localised contamination or discoloured areas in GRP/plastic
    Last edited by sarabande; 04-07-16 at 10:14.
    I think, therefore I am. I am, therefore I sail.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Scotland.
    Posts
    13,526

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    Flippen Heck! Hope you are on the mend.

    Thanks for the tips and advice.
    "'...contradictions .... are deliberate exercises in doublethink." Orwell from 1984

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Home UK Midlands / Boat Croatia
    Posts
    16,950

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    I've never disinfected my shower heads on the boat even though I worked in the hospitality industry for many years with responsibility for health and safety and am therefore well aware of the lengths taken by our team to run hot water through shower heads regularly even in unoccupied rooms.

    However, when we arrive at the boat on Wednesday I will try and remember to disinfect them before the showers are used, just in case.

    Richard

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Live in Kent, boat in Canary Islands
    Posts
    16,247

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    Regarding storage temperature, it obviously depends where your boat is. I doubt that the water in my pipes ever drops below 20C, even in the winter. I will make a point of checking and compare with day, night and sea temperatures.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Perth WA
    Posts
    1,727

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    Thanks for that Nigel: I hope you have a rapid recovery.

    I wanted to find out more so I did a google on "legionnaire boat shower head" and there are a number of articles including a YBW thread from 2013.

    http://www.ybw.com/forums/archive/in.../t-343335.html

    NOTE
    I now notice Nigel, PRV and sarabande have contributed to the thread but others may not have seen it,

    Clive
    Last edited by coopec; 04-07-16 at 12:57.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Me: Johannesburg South Africa Yacht: Richards Bay East Coast Africa
    Posts
    6,440

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    Thks for the headsup. I had not considered the shower head but know about my filler hose. I have made up an injection device to inject a bleach into my water supply to kill any nasties in my water system as like you our ambient does not go very low and can heat the inside of my boat quite high when we are not there.

    Also hope you get well very soon.
    Life is too short not to have a sea view
    Distantshaws tinyurl.com/yclt6l68

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Suffolk
    Posts
    6,659

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    Funny enough, i did the shower head and the whole of the heads yesterday. Last time was about a month ago. I do mine regular, but not for the reasons you give, i'm just a bit fussy with the heads lol.

    Anyway, really just wanted to wish Nigel a speedy recovery

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    clyde
    Posts
    601

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    Hi Nigel , sorry to hear , but as your case demonstrates, legionnaires is a real risk ,

    I work in the business of legionella control and ive often considered the marine environment an ideal scenario for its growth .

    From the water we fill with , often through blue alkathene pipes that run for miles around marinas , with deadlegs , high temps and light penetration all adding to risk factor thats before it gets to your boat !

    Then lying in boat systems unused for long times , even in sunny scotland where i live i wouldnt say there isnt any part of my system hitting over 20 c and breeding bacteria .

    You will have heard of many people who when cleaning out there pipework find its full of slimy ectoplasm stuff , this is biofilm and food for legionella bacterium and others .

    If you want to keep safe , i would suggest a deep clean of your system , pulling through 400 ppm peroxide over 1 hour , if never done before you may need to repeat until system seems clear , then flush out and retreat at 100 ppm , leave 24 hours , then flush again , dose tanks to 15 ppm and leave as a residual . There after top tank to 10-15 ppm every time you refill .

    You need to treat/clean all parts of system , investigate and remove deadlegs . On hot side if running from engine or electrical supply , check your calorifier gets to store at 60 c .though most heating systems ive experienced on boats easily do this .

    Once peeps get over 45 they fall into higher cat groups for susceptibility to legionnaires, drinkers and smoking increases too .

    Most people that get pneumonia dont get tested for legionella ( 12 day incubation for result ) ,

    I would always recommend flushing through any showers or outlets that could cause atomised water that havent been in regular use ,or in temps over 20 c , , by putting a polythene bag over outlet , shower head , with hole in bottom and run as long as you can , this will help flush nasty , but if they are in a boat tank no good .


    You get legionaires by inhaling infected water droplets into your lungs , not by drinking , hence focus on showers , though a high powered pumped water through a diffuser can cause atomisation too .

    This also applies to hotels , villas etc and infact your own home after a cruise of 1 week or more .

    Ive often thought there is a market for offering this service, but.
    A. General public dont percieve this risk until it happens to them .
    B, Boat owners often reluctant to pay commercial rates for services .

    Sorry to dreeb on , but if one life saved , worth it .
    Last edited by markhomer; 04-07-16 at 14:54.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    South Wales, UK
    Posts
    570

    Default Re: Disinfecting Shower Heads

    Scary. Thanks for the warning. I remember some years ago there was a post in one of the canal boat magazines about the Legionella risk resulting from not heating the calorifier water enough. It was quite a lively debate but I did wonder why canal boats in particular would have trouble heating their water.

    Best wishes, Nigel
    David Berry, "Time to go South" from Amazon

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