Four people infected in new legionnaires outbreak in Sydney

Sydney building owners have been warned to guard against legionnaires disease outbreaks by checking their water cooling towers, after four people contracted the condition.

The four individuals contracted the legionnaires strain Legionella pneumophilia, which is commonly found in contaminated water cooling towers in large buildings, NSW Health reported.

They had all spent time in the CBD over the past month, but this may have been a coincidence.

The health department reminded building owners and occupiers of their obligation to maintain and clean their water cooling systems for air conditioning plants.

In 2016, 15 people contracted the pneumonia-like condition after visiting the Sydney CBD during two separate outbreaks linked to two water cooling towers.

Executive director of health protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said that while no source of these four infections has been identified, precautions are being taken.

“As a routine, when cases report visiting common areas, NSW Health works with local councils to ensure cooling towers in the affected areas are properly maintained,” Dr McAnulty said.

Legionnaires’ disease occurs after a person breathes in contaminated water or dust and outbreaks have been associated with the air conditioning units used in large buildings.

Legionella bacteria get into the water supply that cools the system and multiply. Passersby can contract the disease from contaminated vapour drifting in the wind outside.