July 31, 2015
By Tara Jessup
New York, NY — Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett hve announced that City health officials have identified and are overseeing the cleaning of two sources of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx. The two sources already identified are cooling towers at Lincoln Hospital and Concourse Plaza.
The Department is working with the owners of both cooling towers and they are in the process of remediation to reduce the potential for exposure. The City is also testing other possible sources and will order decontamination of any additional sources. The Health Department is testing 10 additional sites surrounding the affected area.
“We will continue to be vigilant on all fronts, ensuring the health and safety of New Yorkers by both addressing Legionnaires’ at its source, and ensuring affected New Yorkers who need it are getting proper treatment,” said Mayor de Blasio.
Steps for decontamination include treating the cooling tower where Legionella bacteria were found with a disinfectant, and continuously flushing the system with fresh water. There have been 46 cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in the South Bronx since July 10, 2015. Nine of the hospitalized patients have been discharged. Two patients have died.
Legionnaires’ disease is NOT contagious. It cannot be spread from person to person, and it is treatable with antibiotics. As with any infection, early diagnosis is desirable. The vast majority of patients recover from the infection.
“As we continue to investigate the potential sources of this cluster, we remind New Yorkers that this is a very treatable disease and we urge anyone who might be experiencing symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to seek medical attention immediately,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Additionally, the New York City water supply does not pose a risk, so people should continue to feel confident in drinking tap water to stay cool during this period of hot weather.”