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Legionnaire’s Disease confirmed in Manukau

News release
24 March 2006

Legionnaire’s Disease confirmed in Manukau

Two cases of Legionnaire’s Disease have been confirmed in the small Manukau City community of Beachlands.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service and Manukau City Council are working together to ensure residents are aware of the situation.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service Manager Dr William Rainger says the first case of Legionnaire’s disease confirmed in Beachlands was an elderly man who died last month.

“We initially believed this to be an isolated case, as Legionnaire’s Disease often is. We investigated the household water supply as per our normal practice and found legionella bacteria. Legionella is a waterborne bacteria and there is no reticulated water supply in Beachlands. All of the households rely on roof collection for their water supplies.”

He says the second case is a 40-year-old man, who is now recovering at home and who lives across the street.

“On Friday (17 March) the presence of legionella bacteria was confirmed in his water supply and that of the elderly man’s next door neighbour,” says Dr Rainger.

Sir Barry Curtis, Mayor of Manukau, says he was distressed to hear of the confirmed cases, and is extremely concerned that residents of Beachlands are supported during what could be an upsetting time.

“I am assured that although legionella bacteria may be found in other roof-collected water systems, the risk this could cause illness appears small.

“The Auckland Regional Public Health Service is doing all it can to address any concerns that residents might have, and the Manukau City Council will provide any additional support considered necessary.

“I urge any resident who may be concerned to read the information that they have received from the public health service.”

Dr Rainger says in the course of Auckland Regional Public Health’s investigations, samples were taken from the nearby Pine Harbour Marina and legionella bacteria were found in the waterblaster at the marina. This has been treated and ARPHS is continuing to monitor it.

ARPHS and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research have provided all three affected households with immediate treatment advice, as well as advice for the longer term.

“We have also briefed the local GPs and the Ministry of Health. We have provided all of the Beachlands community with advice on how to protect their water tanks from pathogens such as legionella, giardia, cryptosporidium, and campylobacter.

“Legionella has been found in roof-collected rain water supplies overseas, but this is the first in New Zealand, which is why we are taking this action,” says Dr Rainger.

Auckland Regional Public Health is holding a community meeting at 6.30pm on Monday 27th March at Te Puru Park Community Hall, 954 Whitford-Maraetai Rd, to answer any questions residents may have. Otherwise contact the public health service on 623 4600; ask to speak to the duty Medical Officer of Health.

Last year in the Auckland region, there were 11 confirmed cases of legionellosis, and all have recovered.

ENDS

A legionellosis fact sheet can be found at:
http://www.arphs.govt.nz/Services/ResourceDevelopment/FactSheets/CDC/legionellosis.pdf

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