Department of Health

Legionnaires' disease cases in Bundoora area (Archived content)

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Three cases of Legionnaires’ disease recently identified in the Bundoora area are being investigated by the Department of Health to determine if they are linked to any cooling towers in the area.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Rosemary Lester, said two cases live or work in the Bundoora area and another lives in an adjoining suburb. All had onset dates within a similar time frame during November.

All three required hospital treatment, but are now recovering. The two men and the woman who became ill are aged between 38 and 72.

“As part of the routine response to cases of Legionnaires’ disease, an environmental sample was taken from a cooling tower in the area,” Dr Lester said.

“The cooling tower was sampled on Friday and shut down until it was disinfected today as a precaution. It will continue to be monitored, but the test results are not expected for several days

“My message to people in the Bundoora area who may be suffering flu-like symptoms is to visit their GP who will assess the need for testing for Legionnaires’ disease.

“The Department is continuing to investigate these cases and identify the possible source of their illness,” Dr Lester said.

Legionnaires’ Disease causes flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, chills, muscle aches and pains, followed by respiratory problems and pneumonia developing over three or four days. The onset can be up to 10 days after the initial contact with the bacteria.

High risk groups in the community are people aged over 50, heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, diabetics, people with chronic lung disease and those with impaired body defences.

Legionnaires ’ disease infection is acquired through breathing in very fine droplets of water which contain the bacteria, such as spray drifts which are vented off from cooling towers. Thorough decontamination and cleaning of infected towers should eliminate the risk.

The legionella bacteria occurs naturally in the environment, mainly in water and soil. It is normally in very low concentrations but can increase markedly, particularly in man-made aquatic environments with warm recirculating water, such as air conditioning cooling towers.

So far this year 55 people have contracted Legionnaires ’ disease, down from 62 for the same period last year.

Reviewed 03 December 2012


Contact details

Bram Alexander Department of Health Media Unit

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