Fifth person contracts legionnaires’ disease in Sydney’s inner west

A fifth person has been diagnosed with legionnaires’ disease in Sydney’s inner west, as the state Opposition called for action to list air cooling towers to help detect outbreaks in future.

NSW Health said a man in his 80s is in a stable condition in hospital after contracting the illness.

He is the fifth person to have fallen ill with the disease in the area in the past two weeks, including a patient who later died.

But NSW Health said it could not be sure the case could be traced to a recent outbreak in nearby Burwood.

“Yesterday a person was identified who has also been diagnosed with legionnaires’ diseases although it is not clear if he is linked with this outbreak,” NSW Health acting chief health officer Dr Jeremy McAnulty told the ABC.

He said there are around 60 cases of legionnaires’ disease of the strain in question each year in NSW.

Air cooler registry proposed

News of the latest case came as NSW Labor said it wanted the Government to establish a registry of air cooling towers to help detect future outbreaks.

“Labor would like to see the State Government take over control of the inspections, set up a central registry of air cooler towers similar to what exists in Victoria,” Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said.

“Victoria has monitoring under the State Government rather than local government.

“We would also like a central registry so if there’s an outbreak health officials will immediately know air cooling towers in the area affected.”

Dr McAnulty said NSW Health had formed an expert panel on the matter and would look at options for strengthening measures if required.