Sydney CBD warning after infections

By | January 23, 2019

Sydney’s CBD has been pointed to as the possible origin of four new cases of Legionnaires’ disease.

The city’s building owners are now being warned to check their water-cooling towers following the infections.

All four cases were recorded in people who had spent time in Sydney’s CBD during the past month, but that may be coincidental according to a public notice from NSW Health.

The government body’s executive director of health protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said while no source of these four infections has been identified, precautions are being


“As a routine, when cases report visiting common areas, NSW Health works with local councils to ensure cooling towers in the affected areas are properly maintained,” Dr McAnulty said.

“Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person.

“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.”

She said building owners should check to ensure their water towers are maintained and cleaned.

That’s because outbreaks of the disease are most frequently linked to contaminated water cooling systems of airconditioning plants in large buildings.

Symptoms include fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath and may lead to severe chest infections such as pneumonia.

Last year, NSW Health strengthened the Public Health Regulation to reduce the community’s risk of legionnaires’, requiring building owners to conduct monthly tests on cooling towers and notify high levels of legionella and other bacteria to local councils.

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“Building owners and occupiers must also ensure a number of key safeguards are in place for cooling towers,” the NSW Health warning reads.

“Building occupiers already had to comply with the Australian Standards for maintaining cooling towers, which require regular inspections and cleaning.”

So far in 2019, there have been four cases of legionnaires’ from the strain most commonly associated with cooling towers, legionella pneumophila, compared to five cases for the same period last year.

For more information about water cooling systems management contact your local

Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.

For information on legionnaires’ visit the NSW Health website.

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