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Cooling tower legionella incident in Melbourne, Australia

Three men and two women from Victoria, Australia’s health office have succumbed to Legionnaires’ disease following a routine inspection of various CBD buildings.

An officer from the health office reports that the victims suddenly became ill. This occurred between the final week of March and the first week of April.

Following an inspection, the health officials now say that these cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been attributed to cooling towers. The location of these cooling towers are in Melbourne’s central business district. In particular, 89 cooling towers located in Little Bourke and Russell streets are currently being disinfected.

Health officials have expressed alarm over this incident. They say is highly unusual considering the number of people infected by the disease as well as the amount of time involved.

At least three more individuals who may have contracted the disease but are not linked to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak are being interviewed and investigated.

According to the HSE, poorly managed cooling towers pose a serious risk of causing a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

This risk can be countered by undertaking a few key steps. These steps include:

  • Identifying and evaluating potential sources of risk
  • Prevention and control of the risk
  • Implementation of risk control measures
  • Record keeping
  • The appointment of a person responsible for undertaking and/or overseeing the previous steps.

The Legionella bacteria can thrive in a diverse array of natural and artificial water environments. One source is cooling towers. In fact, there have been several cases of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks which can be traced back to cooling towers.

When a cooling tower is poorly managed, biofilm can form on the surface, providing bacteria like Legionella nutrients as well as protection from different factors like changes in the temperature.

One important aspect of risk identification and control of Legionella in cooling towers is conducting regular chemical and biological monitoring through the use of a Legionella test kit for water.

Regular testing and prompt response may prevent a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

Legionella test kits are an easy and convenient way to test for the presence of the bacteria in water supply systems. All you have to do is to collect water samples and you can have these picked up by a courier service. The samples will then be evaluated in a laboratory for extensive analysis. The results of the test will then be sent to your preferred address.

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