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Recent Melbourne Visitors Warned On Legionnaires

3 May 2000

Recent Visitors to Melbourne Warned about Legionnaires Disease

THE Ministry of Health is warning people who visited Melbourne during April this year to seek medical advice if they have symptoms and are concerned they may have contracted Legionnaires Disease.

A number of cases of Legionnaires Disease have recently been reported in Victoria, Australia and officials are investigating the water cooling towers at the Melbourne Aquarium as a possible cause.

Ministry of Health Advisor Dr Douglas Lush said the bacteria that causes Legionnaires Disease is found naturally in the environment and most cases are not linked to outbreaks of the disease. Legionnaires is contracted through inhaling air that is contaminated with the bacteria.

"About 100 laboratory notified cases occur in New Zealand each year, most through sporadic contact with soil and potting mix. "

"In the Australian case it appears to have come from the water cooling towers and anyone who visited the Melbourne Aquarium during April should seen urgent medical attention if they suspect they have the disease. It is also important that the doctor be informed that the person visited the aquarium. "

Dr Lush said two blood test maybe required to confirm the diagnoses.

"Legionnaires disease is not spread from person to person, and can be treated but requires specific antibiotics. Some cases of Legionnaires Disease are fatal, particularly in people with weak immune systems."

Symptoms of the disease show two to 10 days after exposure. They include headache, muscle pain, poor appetite followed by a rapidly rising fever, cough, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

ENDS

For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277-5411 Internet address: http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

For further information about the Building Act 1991 contact Bill Porteous Building Industry Authority 04 471 0794

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Between 1994 and 1999 there have been 542 laboratory notified cases of legionnaires disease.

Health warnings on potting mix and compost include keeping a distance when opening the product, ensuring you are in a well ventillated area and the potting mix or compost is kept moist.

Air conditioning and safety requirements of buildings is controlled under the Building Act 1991 which sets mandatory regular maintenance requirements for cooling towers. For further information about the Building Act please contact Bill Porteous Building Industry Authority on 04 471 0794


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