Reported by Ben Blackburn

Several showers at The Queen’s College have been shut off after contamination from the potentially deadly Legionella bacteria was detected.

The contamination was detected during “regular monitoring” and led to showers in some parts of the college being shut off yesterday as a “precautionary measure” until “treatments have been made in the affected areas”. Students living in the affected areas, which are Front Quad staircases 1, 2, and 3 and the Bell Tower, were alerted to the issue in an email. Drinking water and hot tap water have not been affected.

Legionella causes the lung disease known as Legionnaires disease when inhaled. Symptoms include a cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, a high-temperature, and flu-like symptoms. The disease is treatable with a course of antibiotics, but in more serious cases, patients may be provided with an oxygen supply or put on ventilators in hospital. Most people make a full recovery but Legionnaires disease kills approximately 1 in 10 sufferers.

Students have been left disappointed by the college’s response. Matt Rogers, a student at The Queen’s College who has sought medical help, told The Oxford Blue: “Of course I was in disbelief when I heard about the bacteria, but what has horrified me even more is the college’s response: at no point has any thought for our welfare been expressed. We weren’t made aware of any of the symptoms, or even told that there was a risk of disease, and had to seek medical information for ourselves. When we questioned this, the college took over 12 hours to reply, eventually giving a vague, unhelpful conglomeration of excuses, and still with no offer of support.

“And what’s most sickening is how only those on the affected floors have been notified – such a deadly disease should have been brought to the attention of the entire college, not kept under wraps. That I’ve been made ill, had to do my own research, had to seek my own medical attention, and purchase antibiotics, without so much as a whisper of concern from college, is disgraceful. I hope everyone with symptoms uses their own initiative to seek help themselves, seeing as the college is clearly incapable of looking after us.”

The college maintains that its “programme of testing for this bacterium is rigorous and continuous” and that its “control strategy” for the system in question involves adding chlorine at low levels to the water supply. However, no medical advice has been provided to students since the contamination was detected.

A spokesperson for The Queen’s College said: “We regularly monitor and test the hot and cold water supply in College. Our testing has detected the presence of Legionella bacteria at some outlets in the hot water system. We have immediately put showers in the affected areas out of use, and, on the advice of experts, we are acting quickly to disinfect the hot water system in Front and Back Quad to make sure it stays safe.

“The health and wellbeing of all members of College is foremost in our minds, and we understand that some people in Front and Back Quad will find this an unsettling time. However, we would reiterate that we have taken swift action and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”