Legionella found in Kogarah cooling towers

Cooling towers at St George Hospital have been thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated after it was notified on 29 November 2019 that routine monthly samples had tested positive for Legionella bacteria.


No human cases of infection have been linked to the cooling towers and experts advise that the risk of infection to anyone is low.


Cooling towers at an office building in the Kogarah business area had positive results notified to Georges River Council on 2 December 2019 and were immediately cleaned and decontaminated.


An environmental health investigation examining whether there are any common factors between the two locations is underway.


Public Health Units in local health districts across NSW follow up every case of Legionnaires’ disease and work closely with local councils in the management of cooling towers.


Routine testing of cooling towers helps identify contamination early and allows for prompt cleaning and corrective actions.


Last year, NSW Health strengthened the Public Health Regulation to reduce the community’s risk of Legionnaires’ disease, requiring building owners to conduct risk assessments and monthly tests on cooling towers and notify high levels of Legionella and other bacteria to local councils.


Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person.


Symptoms can develop up to 10 days from the time of exposure to contaminated water particles in the air and include fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath and may lead to severe chest infections such as pneumonia.

People who develop this disease are diagnosed by chest X-ray and a urine test and usually require antibiotic treatment in hospital.


Outbreaks of the disease are most frequently linked to contaminated water cooling systems of air conditioning plants in large buildings.


Read more information about water cooling systems management here or contact your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.


Read more information on Legionnaires’ disease here.





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