A South Tyneside factory at the heart of a Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak is facing a fresh health probe after another worker was confirmed to have contracted the potentially deadly bug.
Faltec Europe Ltd was forced to shut down four cooling towers in June by the Health and Safety Executive after significant levels of the bacteria were found on site.
An investigation led by Public Health England and South Tyneside Council’s environmental health team had been launched after four workers at the factory, on Boldon Business Park, and a resident whose home overlooks the site required hospital treatment for Legionnaires’ Disease between last October and May of this year.
A prohibition notice slapped on the firm by the Health and Safety Executive was lifted in September after safety improvements were put in place.
But now health experts are conducting a new investigation after a fifth worker was struck down by the disease in the space of just over 18 months.
The man is currently receiving hospital treatment.
Dr Kirsty Foster, health protection consultant for Public Health England, said: “We do not know where the man acquired his infection, but are investigating all possible sources of infection, including his workplace at Faltec Europe Ltd in Boldon.”
Legionnaires’ disease is a rare form of pneumonia caused when someone breathes in air that contains legionella bacteria in droplets of water. It does not spread from person to person but is contracted through contaminated water.
A spokesman for Faltec, which has a workforce of nearly 500 people and makes components for the car industry, said; “We were informed on Tuesday that an agency worker is in hospital and has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. We wish him a speedy recovery.
“We have carried out a number of precautionary and proactive actions on site.
“Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have also visited our site and we continue to fully co-operate with their enquiries.”