Legionnaires forces mine closure

Legionnaires forces mine closure

A coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin has been shut down after two employees tested positive for legionnaires’ disease.

Mining giant Anglo Coal evacuated its Grasstree Creek mine, near Middlemount in central Queensland, yesterday after the two workers were admitted to hospital.

Central Area Health Service public health physician Dr Margaret Young said the first case had been confirmed last week and a second man had been admitted to hospital over the weekend.

She said the men, aged in their 30s and 40s, had responded to treatment and had been discharged from Rockhampton Hospital.

Any employees who developed a cough or fever should immediately consult a GP, Dr Young said.

Workers who had not already shown these symptoms could be assured they did not have the disease ”“ which could not be spread between people and usually only affected those with poor immune systems.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria, which can be found in creeks, ponds and soil and can also grow in man-made devices including air-conditioning cooling towers and shower heads.

“If you are a worker at the mine and you are perfectly well and do not have a fever or cough, you do not have legionnaires’ disease,” Dr Young said.

“We are a little reassured by the fact that there haven’t been others so far, but obviously we want to know if people are unwell.”

A Queensland Health environmental health officer had visited the mine on Friday to take samples of water, which would be tested for the bacteria, she said.

An Anglo Coal spokesman said the mine would remain closed until management were assured of staff safety.

“We are undertaking a complete risk assessment to ensure that employees are protected from any potential source of legionella and that appropriate control measures are put in place,” general manager Martin Ryan said.

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