An outbreak of legionella has been detected in the water supply at two student halls of residence at St Andrews University.
Students living at the £7,000-a-year St Salvator’s Hall and Gannochy House have been told to use bottled water and temporary shower facilities after the bacteria – which can cause the potentially deadly Legionnaires’ disease – was discovered during routine testing earlier this week.
University bosses insist the risk to students and staff is “very low”, although pipework supplying both facilities is in the process of being flushed out and completely cleaned.
No-one is believed to have fallen ill.
The grand 1930’s St Salvator’s Hall, affectionately known as Sallies, was home to both the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – then Prince William and Kate Middleton – during their first year at St Andrews.
Gannochy House, which was built in the 1970s, is an annexe of St Salvator’s Hall and has recently been refurbished to a high standard.
A St Andrews University spokesperson said: “As part of routine and regular testing, we have detected the presence of legionella bacteria in some parts of the water system supplying St Salvator’s Hall and Gannochy Hall in St Andrews.
“Legionella at low levels is not uncommon in water supplies, which is why we test for it regularly.
“We believe the risk to our students and staff in these residences is very low, but we are acting quickly and comprehensively to flush and clean the water system in the residences, and take all appropriate precautions.
“While this work is ongoing, we have provided bottled water to all our residents and put temporary measures in place to provide shower facilities close by. Residents have been kept closely informed of all the actions we are taking.
“We anticipate that flushing and cleaning of pipework and the water system will be complete by early next week.”
It is understood a number of students have been without proper washing facilities since Wednesday and were initially asked to use hand sanitiser while temporary showers were put in place.
NHS Fife is understood to be monitoring the situation closely.
North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie said he has spoken to the university and has been reassured they are working to ensure students are safe and have all the water and washing facilities needed.
He said: “As if Covid wasn’t enough the students are now facing disruption from legionnaires.
“They are spending more time in halls because of the restrictions so not having washing facilities within easy reach makes life a bit more difficult.”