Aberdeenshire Council has been forced to close its city headquarters – after a potentially deadly bacteria was found in the water supply.
The local authority detected what is suspected to be legionella at Woodhill House during routine testing.
Aberdeenshire Council‘s main administrative base – the only in Scotland to be seated outside of its local authority area – will remain closed until bacterial experts give the all clear.
A spokesman confirmed the find, emphasising no one had taken ill in connection.
If inhaled in water droplets, the legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal pneumonia-type lung infection.
The bug can also cause a more mild flu-like illness called Pontiac fever.
Numbers of employees working in the Aberdeenshire Council offices is still understood to be limited, due to the pandemic.
A spokesman for the local authority said: “As part of routine sampling and testing, an early warning flagged that there is a possibility of legionella in the water systems of Woodhill House.
“Specialists are on site cleaning, flushing and re-testing the water. As a result, the building will be closed until the all-clear is provided.
“Plans were put in place to move staff who must have a presence in an office, and Public Health advice is being shared with colleagues.
“Limited staff and partners are present in the building currently, and have been advised by their line manager of what to look out for.”
Experts: Legionella can become ‘risk to public health’
Health Protection Scotland claims Legionnaires’ disease is uncommon in this country, with most contracting the illness while abroad.
The health body’s website states there are more than 60 types of legionella, but nine in 10 cases of Legionairres’ is caused by the Legionella pneumophila strand.
Legionella bacteria are found in all aquatic environments and “can become a risk to public health” when they colonise in man-made water systems such as showers, cooling towers, air conditioning systems, humidifiers and spa pools, the experts said.