Legionnaires' health alert in Footscray

Residents in Melbourne's west are being warned of a legionnaires' outbreak that has been linked to one death and put four people in hospital.

Legionnaires' health alert in Footscray

Legionnaires' health alert in Footscray

A man in his early fifties, who had other medical conditions, died earlier today at the Western Hospital after contracting the bacterial infection, which authorities believe is linked to air conditioning cooling towers in Footscray.

A 56-year-old St Albans man, a 93-year-old Yarraville woman, and a 69-year-old Footscray man, have been discharged from the Western Hospital after recovering from the illness.

A 75-year-old West Footscray woman remains at the Sunshine Hospital.

Victoria's acting chief health officer, Dr Michael Ackland, said the cases were detected between December 8 and as yesterday.

He said all five patients had spent time in an area within 2km radius of central Footscray.

Health Department officials are testing and disinfecting 24 cooling towers in the area.

Dr Ackland said there was no further risk to the public.

"There should be no risk to people travelling in the Footscray area now, as all the cooling towers are now being disinfected, cleaned and rendered safe," he said.

Dr Ackland urged any Footscray resident with flu-like symptoms to be tested for the disease.

"It is important that anyone else who has been in the vicinity who develops flu-like symptoms sees their doctor," he said.

Legionnaires' disease causes flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, chills, muscle aches and pains, followed by respiratory problems and pneumonia.

Dr Ackland said most people affected were elderly, as is usually the case with legionnaires' disease, though it was more serious if people smoked or had a pre-existing respiratory illness.

Legionnaires' disease is contracted through breathing in very fine droplets of water containing bacteria, such as spray drifts vented off from cooling towers.

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