15 August 2005
Update On Legionnaires Disease
One more Christchurch person has been diagnosed with Legionnaires Disease and is currently in Christchurch Hospital. This brings to 18 the number of cases of the particular strain of the disease that have been notified to health authorities since the beginning of the year.
Canterbury’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Mel Brieseman said the Health Board was working very closely with the Christchurch City Council, OSH and independent ‘auditors’ of cooling systems in the city to speed up the checks that needed to be made.
‘We think that cooling towers are the problem. With more than 100 in the city, we are asking all building owners to help us identify the towers so that they can checked as quickly as possible.’
Dr Brieseman said he hoped that building owners would help out voluntarily, however if they didn’t, and any particular tower was thought to be a possible cause, the City Council would invoke the nuisance provisions of the Health Act to ensure compliance.
‘We want to identify the cause and the longer it takes the more likelihood there is of more people being diagnosed with the disease,’ he said.
‘I want to reassure people that Christchurch Hospital is definitely not one of the potential sites. The hospital has been thoroughly checked on several occasions now by hospital maintenance staff, independent auditors and Environment Canterbury staff. There is no correlation between the people diagnosed and the hospital.’
Dr Brieseman said most of the people diagnosed to date were elderly and had existing health conditions.