HEALTH authorities are investigating an outbreak of legionnaires disease in Melbourne’s CBD which has already left five people seriously ill.
Almost 100 cooling towers are being examined in buildings across the east of Melbourne’s CBD, including three which the Health Department has already taken samples and disinfected.
A further 89 cooling towers between the east of Elizabeth St and Spring St have been ordered to be disinfected as a precaution in case they were the source of the legionnaires outbreak.
Legionnaires’ disease causes flu-like symptoms, including headache, fever, chills, muscle aches and pains that are followed by respiratory problems and pneumonia.
It is contracted by breathing in fine droplets of water which contain Legionella bacteria and its onset can be up to 10 days after initial contact with the bacteria.
On average, there are between 70 and 80 cases of the disease each year.
The department said by the end of Thursday all 92 cooling tower systems identified in its investigation would have been disinfected.
“An alert has been issued recommending doctors to carefully consider Legionnaires’ disease in people with pneumonia who have visited the CBD since late March,” a spokesman said.
“The alert emphasised the importance of careful testing of patients and the vital role of notification to enable more investigation by public health of all cases.”
Anyone experiencing symptoms of the disease have been urged to contact their doctor.
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