Legionnaires' disease found at Hong Kong government complex

The bacterium that causes Legionnaires' disease has been found at several sites in a new Hong Kong government complex, causing one minister to fall ill and major embarrassment for the authorities involved.
According to the health department, nine water samples taken from the buildings tested positive for Legionella, which causes Legionnaires' disease, a severe type of pneumonia. The checks were prompted after Michael Suen, the city's education minister, came down with the possibly fatal disease, AFP reports.
Suen was in the hospital for approximately two weeks before his discharge last week. The level of bacteria found in a tap outside his office washroom was approximately 14 times more than what is considered a safe level.

Cyd Ho, a pro-democracy legislator, blamed the government and Chief Executive Donald Tsang for rushing to open the new building, compromising cleaning and sanitation work.
"This is more than embarrassing. It's really a shame," Ho said, according to AFP. "Everyone was under pressure to accommodate the wish of one person just because of his will to move in as soon as possible so (Tsang) could deliver his last policy address (in October) in the new complex. This disease normally occurred only in very old buildings so when it's found in a new building, it's a shock to everybody."
Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water and can be found in whirlpools, spas, cooling towers and water tanks. They can be spread through exposure to contaminated water droplets, but cannot be spread from person to person. The government downplayed fears and said its staff can work as normal.
"Finding Legionella bacteria in the water is not equal to an outbreak of the Legionella disease," Thomas Tsang, the government's center for health protection controller, said, according to The Standard.
According to authorities, disinfection work and installation of water filters should contain the bacteria. The new $708 million harbor-front complex opened in August.