Hospi­tal catches le­gionella in­fec­tion

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - LINDA SILMALIS

WEST­MEAD Hospi­tal has been forced to chem­i­cally treat its new cool­ing tow­ers fol­low­ing the de­tec­tion of le­gionella.

It can be re­vealed de­tails of the le­gionella de­tec­tion were raised at a meet­ing of the West­ern Syd­ney Lo­cal Health District board in Fe­bru­ary.

The dis­cov­ery has trig­gered calls from state op­po­si­tion health spokesman Walt Secord for the depart­ment to re­veal the lo­ca­tions of le­gion­naires’ dis­ease cases.

The lat­est NSW Health fig­ures show there were 11 cases of the dis­ease in April.

Since Jan­uary, there have been 40 cases, in­clud­ing two so far this month. It is not clear if the de­tec­tion of le­gionella at West­mead was re­spon­si­ble for any of the cases.

West­mead hospi­tal gen­eral man­ager Andrew New­ton told the meet­ing the le­gionella was de­tected in the new cool­ing tow­ers on top of the pathol­ogy build­ing at West­mead.

It is un­der­stood the cool­ing tow­ers were only in­stalled last year and form part of the re­de­vel­op­ment of the hospi­tal.

“The Board was as­sured all rou­tine main­te­nance and test­ing had been un­der­taken since in­stal­la­tion,” Mr New­ton said. “The tow­ers have been cleaned and chem­i­cally treated and the re­sults are now within nor­mal pa­ram­e­ters. Th­ese will be closely mon­i­tored.”

Mr Secord said NSW Health data con­firmed 2016 was the worst year on record for le­gion­naires’ dis­ease with a record 125 cases — a more than 25 per cent in­crease over 2015. Mr Secord said the com­mu­nity had a right to know the lo­ca­tions of the cases.

“It is cus­tom­ary to re­veal the lo­ca­tion of the in­fec­tions,” he said. “This is im­por­tant be­cause if some­one shows symp­toms then they can seek ur­gent med­i­cal ad­vice.”

Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease is a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion of the lungs.

Aus­tralian out­breaks have been con­nected to con­tam­i­nated air con­di­tion­ing sys­tems.

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