Study reveals NZ has one of the world's highest rates of Legionnaires' disease

A Christchurch man who nearly died from Legionnaires' disease isn’t surprised by the findings of a new report that says the ailment is majorly under-reported in New Zealand.

Your playlist will load after this ad

The severe form of pneumonia is three times more common here than previously thought. Source: 1 NEWS

Levon Anderson spent 16 days in an induced coma after contracting the disease at work, hauling dirt and shingle at a garden centre.

But it wasn’t until day five that he was properly diagnosed. Prior to that, he was told he had a severe case of pneumonia.

The test used in the study could've brought him out of a coma sooner, as it tests specifically for the potentially deadly disease.

The study tested every person in New Zealand who was admitted to hospital with pneumonia within the space of a year.

Of those, 238 cases of Legionnaires were identified - three times the number of cases previously reported.

Other key findings included 60 per cent of those with the disease were 65 or older, 15 patients died within 90 days of diagnosis and 38 ended up in ICU.

There were also notably higher rates than previously reported in the Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Waitemata District Health Boards.

Professor David Murdoch, the lead researcher, hopes it will not only raise more awareness around the disease, but also encourage DHBs to order in more specific tests to accurately diagnose patients sooner, or even prevent it.