Outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Melbourne

2 March 2018
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Outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Melbourne


As you may be aware there has been a recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease linked to Melbourne’s CBD.

There are now eight confirmed and one probable case of Legionnaires’ disease, six men and three women, aged between 49 and 79 and all are current or former smokers – a high-risk category for acquiring Legionnaires’ disease.

One of these confirmed cases is a rough sleeper, who spends most days around the area linked to the outbreak, particularly near Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets. Preliminary results from cooling tower samples suggest that a cooling tower in Federation Square is the possible source for this outbreak.

It is possible that there may be other rough sleepers around the area who could be experiencing symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, but are unaware of the problem, or of where to go to seek medical treatment.

We are seeking your support and asking you to share this information with your outreach workers, or any other professionals who work closely with the homeless population, so they can help anyone who may be experiencing any symptoms associated with Legionnaires’ disease and encourage them to seek immediate medical attention.

Who is most at risk

High-risk groups in the community are people aged over 50, heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, people with diabetes or chronic lung disease and those with lowered immunity.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease

Legionnaires’ disease causes flu-like symptoms followed by respiratory problems and pneumonia developing over three or four days. Please be aware of any rough sleepers experiencing any of the below symptoms:

  • headaches;

  • fever;

  • chills;

  • muscle aches and pains; or

  • breathing problems.

Where to get medical treatment

If a person fits into any of the high risk groups, has spent time around Melbourne’s CBD between late-January and mid-February, and is experiencing any of the above symptoms, please encourage them to visit the nearest hospital emergency department to be assessed and tested for possible Legionnaires’ disease.

More information about legionnaires disease can be found on The Better Channel: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/legionnaires-disease