Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Two Hong Kong men with legionnaires’ disease in critical condition at Tseung Kwan O Hospital

  • Pair suspected to have contracted disease at The Wings IIIA housing development
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2018, 7:30am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2018, 7:30am

Two men suffering from legionnaires’ disease were in critical condition at a Hong Kong hospital on Tuesday night, according to health authorities.

The pair, aged 61 and 69, along with a third patient already discharged, all lived at or had visited The Wings IIIA housing development in Tseung Kwan O, the Centre for Health Protection said.

The two in critical condition were receiving treatment at Tseung Kwan O Hospital. The other patient, a 76-year-old woman, had been discharged from United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong.

Officials first announced two of the cases on November 26. Genetic analysis found an identical strain of bacteria in the respiratory systems of both the 61-year-old man and the woman.

Doctors were still investigating the case of the 69-year-old, who lives in Tower 3A at the estate.

A spokesman for the centre said it had collected water samples from potential sources of infection, including a water fountain at the main entrance to the estate and a waterfall between Towers 2 and 3.

He said the management office had suspended operation of the fountain and waterfall as a precautionary measure.

Finding of bacteria behind legionnaires' disease worries residents of Hong Kong public estate

Bacteria that cause legionnaires’ disease grow well in warm water ranging from 20 to 45 degrees Celsius, according to the Department of Health. Water tanks, hot and cold water systems, cooling towers and fountains often play host.

Infection can result from breathing in contaminated droplets or mist, or from handling garden soil, compost or potting mix, the department added.

“People aged over 50, men, smokers, alcoholics and people with weakened immunity are more susceptible,” the spokesman said.

Old or poorly maintained water systems were among factors that could increase the risk of infection, he warned.

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Those with weak immune systems should drink only sterile or boiled water and use it for brushing teeth and mouth rinsing also. They should avoid humidifiers, health officials said.

Management at The Wings IIIA said it was highly concerned about the cases. Its contractor had cleaned all the storage tanks for drinking water on Monday, it added.

The estate had followed guidelines from the Water Supplies Department stipulating that water tanks be cleaned every three months, the management said. It also promised to step up cleaning work.