Status:
Resolved
Health alert:
130001
Date Issued:
24 Jan 2013
Issued by:
Dr Michael Ackland, Acting Chief Health Officer, Victoria
Issued to:
Health Professionals, especially those in the Footscray area of Melbourne

Key messages

  • An outbreak of five cases of Legionnaires' disease has been identified, involving individuals who all report exposures in the Footscray area, in Melbourne’s west.
  • Consider Legionnaires’ disease in patients who have been around the central Footscray area with influenza-like symptoms, and particularly those with severe pneumonia.
  • Rapid confirmation can be obtained by urinary antigen testing. Sputum for culture should be sought in all cases if possible.
  • Legionnaires’ disease is a Group A notifiable condition which requires immediate notification to the Department of Health.

What is the issue

An outbreak of five cases of Legionnaires' disease has been identified, involving individuals who all report exposures in the Footscray area, in Melbourne’s west.

Consider Legionnaires’ disease in patients who have been around the central Footscray area with influenza-like symptoms, and particularly those with severe pneumonia.

Rapid confirmation can be obtained by urinary antigen testing. Sputum for culture should be sought in all cases if possible.

Legionnaires’ disease is a Group A notifiable condition which requires immediate notification to the Department of Health.

Who is at risk

People who have been around the Footscray area since December 2012. Most at risk are older people, people with chronic illness and suppressed immunity.

Symptoms and transmission

Cases typically present with influenza-like symptoms such as headache, fever, rigors, cough or myalgia, and may progress to severe pneumonia.

Prevention and treatment

Early diagnosis and treatment with appropriate antibiotics is important in reducing the severity of illness and the risk of severe complications. Referral to hospital is often required for confirmed cases. Empirical treatment of moderate or severe community-acquired pneumonia (as per Therapeutic Guidelines) is recommended to cover Legionella bacteria.

Contacts

  • Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Unit at the Department of Health on 1300 651 160 (business hours) or 1300 790 733 (after hours)