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2018 Legionella Cases up by 45%
12 January 2019


Hong Kong legionella 2018 review


Last year in 2018, 105 cases of Legionella infection were reported according to Centre for Health Protection (CHP)[1].

Kelcroft's expert John Herbert, said that is a staggering increase, 45% higher than the 72 cases in 2017, and 800% higher than the 13 cases recorded a decade ago, the trend is very clear and cannot be ignored.

Over the years the number of Legionella cases has steadily increased, mostly attributed to better clinical detection (more frequent testing) and perhaps overlooking the more obvious risks. Since 2000, fresh water has been permitted for air conditioning, so the number of water cooling towers in Hong Kong has risen, EMSD estimates there are approx 9,000 cooling towers operating in the city.

Also, in some districts the fresh water pipes are not buried underground, but instead routed aboveground on the surface (exposed), so during the summer heat, the cold water is often already hot.

One case from 2018 was particularly noteworthy, three people fell ill in Macau, where a hotel decorative fountain was suspected to be the culprit. It's surprizing because decorative fountains are known and documented source for distributing Legionella.

Legionella Cases Hong Kong

Year - Cases
2018 - 105
2017 - 72
2016 - 75
2015 - 66
2014 - 41
2013 - 28
2012 - 28
2011 - 17
2010 - 20
2009 - 37
2008 - 13

Building owners and operators must take care operating water systems in accordance with the prevailing COP published by EMSD.

1. HKSAR CHP Legionella Press Release dated 31-12-2018

About the Author

John Herbert is a veteran chief engineer with more than 30 years international engineering experience, educated in the United Kingdom, he worked in the UK and then across Asia for more than two decades engaged by international and local companies. He is a Hong Kong Registered Energy Assessor (REA) and BEAM Professional, and is stationed in Hong Kong.


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date 24-10-19
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