Three in hospital for dangerous disease

Three hospitalised after contracting Legionnaires’ diseas in Sydney. NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

Three people have been hospitalised after contracting the dangerous legionnaires’ disease in Sydney, prompting a warning from health officials.

People who have visited areas near Victoria Park in Camperdown in the past 10 days have been warned to be on high alert for symptoms of legionnaires’ disease.

Anyone who visited areas close to Victoria Park, including parts of the University of Sydney Camperdown campus, are urged to monitor for symptoms.

Symptoms of the disease, which is a form of pneumonia, include a cough, shortness of breath, fevers and a headache.

Two men, aged on their 60s, and a woman, aged in her 70s, have been diagnosed with disease after visiting locations surrounding Victoria Park.

NSW Health said the three individuals were admitted to hospital and had since been released.

Sydney Local Health District deputy clinical director of public health Isabel Hess said people could be exposed to the bacteria if contaminated waters from a cooling system were released into the air and breathed in.

Dr Isabel Hess has given a warning.
Dr Isabel Hess has given a warning.

“Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person to person. Symptoms of legionnaires’ disease 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,” Dr Hess said.

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

“Those most at risk are people with underlying lung or other serious health conditions and people who smoke.”

NSW Health said they had directed that cooling towers throughout the area be disinfected and cleaned as a precaution.

The department confirmed one tower at the Camperdown campus of the University of Sydney had returned a positive result for low levels of legionella bacteria and had since been decontaminated.