Students were alerted by a note slid under their door on Friday eveningSmb1001 / Wikimedia Commons

Traces of pneumonia-causing bacteria were found in Gonville and Caius accommodation last week, with the college instructing students not to use hot water.

Legionella bacteria was found as a result of routine testing on the water supplies at Caius’ Harvey Court accommodation on Friday of last week (06/10). Students at the first-year accommodation site were instructed not to use hot water for the rest of the day.

Legionella is often found in stagnant water systems, and can cause Legionnaires disease, a severe form of pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a flu-like illness.

Jamie, a first-year English student who lives in Harvey Court, told Varsity: “I got a note slid under my door as well as an email from the head porter saying that there has been a test done on the water and legionella had been found in the hot water supply for Harvey Court.”

“I was kind of worried at first, because they didn’t give us much information about how long it had possibly been there, or if it was particularly dangerous,” he said.

Another student felt that the College's communications on the matter could have been more informative. "I would recommend that adding a short description of what legionella actually is as well as recognising symptoms of having legionella would [have] calm[ed] people down," they said.


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Students were alerted that the water had been treated later on Friday evening, with the Head Porter emphasising that “the level of Legionella we identified was very low, and the risk of harm was minimal.”

A Gonville and Caius College spokesperson said: “Routine testing found a minute trace of legionella bacteria in hot water systems at our Harvey Court accommodation on Friday 6 October. Best practice Health and Safety Executive procedures were followed to eliminate any risk to residents.”

“Hot water was unavailable from 4pm until 8pm and cold water supplies were unaffected. We thank students for their cooperation and staff for their vigilance in testing and prompt actions in responding.”