Legionella Bacteria In Auckland CBD Cooling Towers
Auckland Regional Public Health Service Advise Low Risk Of Legionellosis From Positive Cooling Tower Tests
The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) advises that there is a low risk to peoples' health following positive results for Legionella bacteria from routine monthly testing of several cooling towers in the Auckland CBD. Appropriate corrective action has been taken at the affected cooling towers, in line with Australian/New Zealand Standards 3666 (thorough cleaning, disinfection with chlorine, and re-testing).
ARPHS is working closely with the Auckland City Council and the Department of Labour to determine the extent of the problem, and whether other cooling towers in the CBD are affected. ARPHS commends those building owners who have reported their results and taken prompt corrective action.
ARPHS Medical Officer of Health, Dr Cathy Pikholz says, "The risk that this could cause illness is small, and people should go about their usual business in the CBD. People are advised to seek medical attention if they develop symptoms suggestive of Legionellosis".
Symptoms of Legionellosis include muscle aches, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite and coughing, followed by high fever, chills and occasionally diarrhoea. In people with the milder form of Legionellosis, called Pontiac fever, there will be these flu-like symptoms but no pneumonia. In the more severe form of Legionellosis, called Legionnaire's disease, pneumonia will be present on clinical examination and on chest x-ray.
Legionellosis is not caught by drinking contaminated water, nor is it passed from one person to another. Generally it is caught by inhaling mists or spray from water that contains Legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria are very commonly found in the environment; however, only a small percentage of people exposed to the bacteria get sick.
Children or those in good health rarely get the illness, and up to 20% of healthy adults have antibodies showing previous exposure to Legionella bacteria.
Some adults with medical conditions may be vulnerable. Older people, heavy smokers, people with chronic lung disease or conditions that lower immunity (such as diabetes, cancer or kidney failure) or are on immune suppressing drugs (such as high doses of steroids) are those most at risk of getting sick from Legionella bacteria. For a Legionellosis fact sheet go to: http://www.arphs.govt.nz/notifiable/notifiable_infectious.asp
Concerned members of the public can call the ADHB.