Investigation of a legionellosis outbreak in Sydney CBD - a brief report

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2023 Apr;47(2):100018. doi: 10.1016/j.anzjph.2023.100018. Epub 2023 Mar 23.


Objective: To identify and control a source of Legionella in Sydney CBD.

Methods: Clinical, epidemiological, environmental and genomic techniques were employed to identify cases and the source of Legionella.

Results: Eleven legionellosis cases were linked to Sydney CBD with a median age of 69 years. All were hospitalised and had risk factors for Legionella infection. Eight of 11 cases identified as male. Genomic analysis linked three cases to a contaminated cooling water source in Sydney CBD, with a further case infected with a similar strain to that found in Sydney CBD. Another case, although epidemiologically linked to Sydney CBD, was infected with a genomically different strain to that found in Sydney CBD. Six other cases had no viable sample for genomic analysis.

Conclusion/implications for public health: An outbreak of legionellosis is a serious public health threat that requires rapid investigation and environmental control. We were able to identify a source in Sydney CBD through the application of clinical, epidemiological, environmental and genomic techniques. Genomic analysis is a powerful tool that can be used to confirm the source location but requires close collaboration between clinicians, public health units and microbiologists to recover viable sputum cultures from cases diagnosed with legionellosis.

Keywords: environmental; genomic; legionellosis; legionnaires disease; outbreak.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Legionella*
  • Legionellosis* / diagnosis
  • Legionellosis* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Water Pollution