Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
There has been a death from Legionnaires' disease in Doncaster. This disease is caused by bacteria that infects people when they breathe in infested water droplets, such as spray drifts from cooling towers. There were two contaminated cooling towers in Doncaster and three people were infected with the bacteria after shopping in the area. One of them – a 66 year old man died in Box Hill Hospital on May 11, a day after the state Health Department was notified he had the disease, which causes flu-like symptoms that may develop into pneumonia. Two other men, aged 33 and 40 were also admitted to the hospital but have been discharged.
Victoria's chief health officer, John Carnie confirmed that the cooling towers in question at 666 Doncaster Road and 2 Frederick Street have already been disinfected, cleaned and rendered safe on May 26, 15 days after the man died. He however warned all people who visited the area before May 26th to visit their physician in case they develop symptoms. A simple urine test may detect the disease. Dr. Carnie also said that the infection could surface any time within 10 days of exposure to the bacteria and so the danger period for those exposed ends this weekend. He took the initiative to inform over 4,000 businesses and state authorities to get their cooling systems checked and maintained regularly. “I've also written to doctors and hospitals in Victoria asking them to be on the lookout for cases,” he said.
This year there have been 40 cases of the disease compared to the 23 this time last year. Earlier this year there have been two more related deaths. The health authorities say that elderly, diabetics, smokers and those with other lung diseases are more susceptible to get the disease and die from it. A warmer climate may be responsible for the rise in number of cases said Dr. Carnie.
There have been rigorous testing of all cooling units at Doncaster Shopping town and Manningham Council offices and the results till now are negative.