FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Spread of Legionnaires’ Disease - Urgent Action Requested of Building Owners/Managers
Auckland Regional Public Health Services (ARPHS) is urging owners and managers of all buildings that contain a cooling tower, or an industrial process that uses water and generates aerosols, to arrange for immediate shock-dosing of these systems.
In the past six weeks, ARPHS has been notified of nine cases of Legionnaires’ disease across the Auckland region, jumping from an average of one or two cases for a typical six-week period. Legionnaires’ disease has caused a number of outbreaks both here and overseas, because it is a form of pneumonia it can be life threatening for vulnerable people.
Dr Simon Baker, Medical Officer of Health with ARPHS says, “this is an urgent matter concerning the health of our population”. Dr Baker states that “building managers have a responsibility to shock-dose their cooling systems with a suitable biocide which will eliminate any Legionella bacteria present, and reduce the spread of this disease”.
Cases have been from all over the Auckland region, and because of the long incubation period of the disease, it may not be possible to find the source in a timely manner.
ARPHS is working with a number of agencies including Auckland Council, which is supporting efforts to inform relevant building owners and managers of the situation and the recommended response.
Dr. Baker believes that “given the severity of this disease it is important that building managers take action now to avoid unintentionally spreading Legionnaires’ disease.”
Auckland Council asks that once a building’s ventilation system has been shock-dosed for Legionella that building owners or managers call 09 353 9358 to register the physical address of the cleared building.
Those who have concerns about their individual health should contact their GP.
For more information on Legionella visit the ARPHS website on: www.arphs.govt.nz
For media enquiries, contact:
Auckland Regional Public Health Service
Cell: 021 243 2421
Auckland City Council
Cell: 021 278 6858