Recent Increase in Legionella cases

Monday, 16 January 2017

The Communicable Disease Control Branch has identified a recent increase in cases of Legionella pneumophila Serogroup 1 infection, in metropolitan Adelaide.

Four confirmed cases have been notified to CDCB since the 9th of January. All notified cases of this infection are followed up by interviewing the patient, or their family members, and conducting an environmental investigation to attempt to identify potential sources of infection.No exposures common to all four cases have been identified. Local councils are requesting owners of cooling towers to undertake monitoring, and decontamination procedures if indicated.

Doctors are asked to:

  • consider Legionella infection as a diagnosis in persons presenting with an influenza-like symptoms and particularly those with severe pneumonia
  • seek rapid confirmation of the diagnosis by urinary antigen and if possible sputum culture.
  • notify cases immediately to CDCB on 1300 232 272 (24 hours/ 7 days)

Infection with Legionella pneumophila Serogroup 1 (Legionnaires’ disease) usually causes pneumonia, which is often severe. Symptoms include fever, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, anorexia, malaise, myalgia, headache, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.Legionella pneumophila infectionis more common in middle aged and older people and those who are immunocompromised. Other risk factors include smoking, chronic heart or lung disease, diabetes, renal disease and some forms of cancer.

Legionella pneumophila bacteria are widespread in natural water sources and can colonise water systems.The infection can be transmitted from environmental sources such as cooling towers, hot water systems, hot and cold water taps, showers, nebulisers, spa baths and spa pools, hydrotherapy pools and ornamental fountains. The incubation period is usually between 2 to 10 days. Person to person transmission does not occur.

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