Fifth Legionnaires' case identified amid outbreak
A fifth person in New South Wales has contracted Legionnaires’ disease after the strain was first identified in the water cooling system of a Sydney building.
NSW Health today confirmed the person, who lives interstate, had visited the Lidcome area, in the city’s inner west, prior to September 17.
On that date, the Legionella strain was found in a building’s cooling system and decontaminated.
Dr Shopna Bag, the director of the public health unit in the Western Sydney local health district, said anyone who has been to the area recently and develops the symptoms of the disease should see a doctor.
Legionnaires’ disease symptoms can include developing a fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath.
“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.”
NSW Health’s investigation into the outbreak is continuing, and the government body has assured the local community that frequent updates will be made available.
This year, the Public Health Regulation was strengthened in an attempt to reduce the chance of a Legionnaires’ outbreak.
Building owners are now required to conduct monthly tests on cooling towers and notify any high levels of Legionella to local council authorities.