Cooling towers blamed for outbreak, CBD visitors told to watch for symptomsPosted by On

People who have recently visited Sydney’s CBD have been warned to watch for symptoms of pneumonia, as health authorities suspect contaminated cooling towers have spread a harmful infection.

NSW Health said five people have been admitted to hospital after contracting Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially life-threatening illness, which presents usually as a fever, cough and shortness of breath. 

Authorities are urging anyone who visited the city in the past 10 days to be on alert, as each sick person had visited locations between Museum Station, York Street and Park Street.

Professor Peter Collignon sits and looks into the camera with a bookcase behind him.
Professor Peter Collignon said the disease was contracted from breathing in contaminated water vapour in the air. (ABC News: Tamara Penniket)

Australian National University infectious disease physician Peter Collignon said the disease could not be spread from person to person, but was contracted through inhaling water vapour suspended in the air. 

“People who visited the city in that timeframe should be aware and look out for the symptoms,” Professor Collignon said.

“You should get tested and get the correct antibiotics to treat it, because regular penicillin does not work.”

NSW Health and the City of Sydney are investigating cooling towers that could be the potential source of the disease.

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