Hong Kong authorities have confirmed three cases of Legionnaires’ disease (LD) involving residents or frequent visitors at a residential estate in Tseung Kwan O.
In a media release on Tuesday, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said an investigation has been launched into the community-acquired LD cases.
Expressing concern about the cases, the agency reminded people of the importance of using and maintaining properly designed water systems, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
On Nov. 26, the CHP announced that a 61-year-old male patient and a 76-year-old female patient were confirmed to have contracted LD, an infectious disease that is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella.
On Dec. 4, another case, involving a 69-year-old male patient, was recorded by the CHP from the same residential estate in Tseung Kwan O, taking the total cases from that estate to three within the space of less than 10 days.
Of the three patients, two were male while the other victim was a woman.
The two male patients live in the IIIA phase of The Wings, a luxury residential estate located along Tong Yin Street.
As for the female patient, she is believed to have contracted the disease as she has made frequent trips to the same housing complex to take care of her family living there, according to the CHP.
It is understood that the two men remain in critical condition.
A spokesman for the CHP said while epidemiological investigations revealed that the three patients had no travel history in the incubation period, investigations are ongoing to identify potential sources of infection, if any.
The spokesman added that relevant water samples from potential sources have been collected and the management office of The Wings IIIA has, as a precautionary measure, suspended the operation of a water fountain and a waterfall.
The office said it has been stepping up efforts to clean the environment of the estate. A notice has been put up to alert the residents, it said, adding that hygiene seminars from CHP staff will be arranged.
The latest cases from Tseung Kwan O bringing the total number of LD cases so far this year in Hong Kong to 100, or about 40 percent more than those in 2016 and 2017 combined.
The legionellae bacteria grow well in warm water, at 20 to 45 degrees Celsius. They can be found in aqueous environments such as water tanks, hot and cold water systems, cooling towers, whirlpools and spas, water fountains and home apparatus supporting breathing.
Once infected, patients will mostly have symptoms such as fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, tiredness, headache and muscle pain. Abdominal pain and diarrhea may also occur, according to information posted on the CHP website.
Currently, there is no vaccine available for LD, as per the World Health Organization.
A CHP spokesman said that men, people aged over 50, smokers, alcoholics and those with weakened immunity are more susceptible to LD.
In an advisory, the health agency urged people to observe personal hygiene, and drain and clean water tanks in buildings at least quarterly, among other safety precautions.
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