Three cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in residents of Oatlands Garden Retirement Village.
All cases occurred in older men. Two were diagnosed on 19 October and have since been discharged from hospital, and the other was diagnosed yesterday and is in a stable condition in hospital.
The Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Public Health Unit is investigating whether the cases represent an outbreak with a common source.
Legionnaires’ disease can occur after a person breathes in contaminated water, soil or dust. It is not spread from person to person.
Residents, staff and visitors of the village are being advised to look out for symptoms. If people notice symptoms, they should see their GP or local hospital emergency department.
Legionnaires’ disease usually causes fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath. Some people also have muscle aches, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite and diarrhoea.
While some people can become sick with pneumonia; most people recover and the disease is usually easily treated with antibiotics but occasionally the disease can be fatal.
Preliminary investigation has not implicated any cooling towers in western Sydney. WSLHD’s Public Health Unit has put control measures in place for other potential sources of Legionella at the Village, and is continuing investigations.
Control measures include the closure and testing of pools, spas and sampling water systems such as sprinklers and hot water systems.
Legionnaires’ disease, caused by Legionella bacteria, is a rare infection of the lungs. The bacteria are commonly found in the environment, particularly water and soil. It is also known to occur in man-made structures such as air conditioning water cooling systems and spa pools.
More information is available on the NSW Health website: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/legionnaires_disease.aspx