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Review
, 21 (1), 65-70

Epidemiological Characteristics of Legionella Infection in South Australia: Implications for Disease Control

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Review

Epidemiological Characteristics of Legionella Infection in South Australia: Implications for Disease Control

S Cameron et al. Aust N Z J Med.

Abstract

About one third of adults surveyed in South Australia have shown evidence of past silent infection with Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1. However, the annual notification rate for symptomatic disease is only about 0.5 per 100,000 residents in non-epidemic years. The male to female ratio is 2.5 to one and approximately 50% of the cases are at least 60 years of age. Cases have presented more in summer and in the metropolitan areas. Twenty cases of Legionnaires' disease occurred during the summer of 1985-86. A cooling tower was held to be the principal source with aerosols being dispersed up to three kilometers away during an atmospheric thermal inversion. A subsequent outbreak of 22 L. longbeachae serogroup 1 infections had no marked geographic clustering. The outbreak commenced in spring and cases were distinguished as active gardeners. L. longbeachae was found in garden soil and it is hypothesised that this soil inhabitant can become aerosolised and inhaled during gardening. The potential for primary prevention of Legionnaires' disease is discussed in relation to water-handling equipment and the need for early precautionary treatment of all community-acquired pneumonia as suspect Legionnaires' disease is emphasised.

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