Legionnaires’ disease cluster update

NSW Health has been notified of a fifth case of Legionnaires’ disease in an interstate resident.

The fifth person had visited the Lidcombe area prior to 17 September.

Subsequently Legionella was identified in a building’s water cooling system in the area and immediately decontaminated.

The NSW Health investigation into the Legionella cluster is continuing and the community will be continually updated. Director Public Health Unit, Western Sydney Local Health District, Dr Shopna Bag said anyone who has recently been to the Lidcombe and surrounding areas who develops symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, including fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath, should visit their GP.

“Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person,” Dr Bag said.

“All five cases contracted the infection from breathing in Legionella pneumophila bacteria, which is found in water sources such as cooling towers.

“Symptoms can develop up to 10 days from the time of exposure to contaminated water particles in the air.

“People who develop this disease are diagnosed by chest X-ray and a urine test and usually require antibiotic treatment in hospital.”

Dr Bag said the District’s investigation team acted swiftly to examine water sources in the area when the first case was confirmed and detected Legionella pneumophila bacteria in a building’s cooling system on 17 September.

This year, NSW Health strengthened the Public Health Regulation to reduce the community’s risk of Legionnaires’ disease, requiring building owners to conduct monthly tests on cooling towers and notify high levels of Legionella and other bacteria to local council.

For further information on Legionnaires’ disease visit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/legionnaires_disease.aspx