legionellanyc2015New York, NY. NewYorkCityStrong: A tenth person has died in connection with the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City, and the total number of cases has reached triple digits. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the additional death Thursday. He also said number of cases is up to 100. All cases are coming from the South Bronx.

The City of New York is using  aerial maps to determine which structures throughout the city use water cooled air conditioning systems. Every system will be treated with a chemical to kill the bacteria. Legionnaire’s disease is spread through the airborne emissions of  these systems.

The NYC Health Department Investigating Outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in the South Bronx.

Legionnaires’ disease have been reported since July 10. New Yorkers with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, are advised to promptly seek medical attention.
The Health Department is currently investigating an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx. The Health Department is actively investigating and is testing water from cooling towers and other potential sources in the area to determine the source of the outbreak. New Yorkers with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, are advised to promptly seek medical attention. “We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases in the South Bronx,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett. “We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases. I urge anyone with symptoms to seek medical attention right away.”

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by the bacteria Legionella. Additional symptoms include: headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria. Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, cooling towers, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person. Groups at high risk for Legionnaire’s disease include people who are middle-aged or older – especially cigarette smokers – people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs). Those with symptoms should call their doctor and ask about testing for Legionnaire’s disease.

If you own a building with a cooling tower:
  • You must disinfect all of your building’s cooling towers within 14 days of receiving the order in the mail.
  • You must also keep records at the building or buildings you own of the inspection and disinfection of all cooling towers. If City officials ask for these records, you must show them.
  • If the tower was already inspected and disinfected within the last 30 days, you must maintain records of the inspection and remediation, and make them available to the City upon request.

The City issued this order because of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in the South Bronx. Several cooling towers in the affected neighborhoods tested positive for Legioinella. The outbreak has not affected the City’s drinking or bathing water; it is safe for building residents to drink and bathe with tap water. It is also safe to use home air conditioning units and to be in air conditioned environments.

South Bronx Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Frequently Asked Questions

If you live in the South Bronx and experience symptoms such as fever, cough, headache and muscle aches, seek medical attention right away. What is the difference between a water tank and a cooling tower? A cooling tower contains water and is used by some buildings as part of their air conditioning, ventilation and/or heating systems. A small number of cooling towers in the South Bronx have tested positive for Legionella bacteria during the current outbreak. A water tank is a totally different system. Some taller buildings use a water tank to store water used for drinking, washing dishes and/or showering. No water tanks are associated with the current South Bronx outbreak. Is the tap water in the South Bronx safe to drink and bathe with? Yes. It is safe to drink and bathe with the tap water in the South Bronx and throughout the city. Are air conditioning units safe to use? Yes. It is safe to use home and car air conditioning units and to be in air conditioned environments. Can I still eat and drink at South Bronx restaurants or buy food and drinks from South Bronx grocery stores? Yes. The outbreak does not affect food or water sold in grocery stores or restaurants. Are pools safe? It is safe to swim in pools; they are not affected by the outbreak. Are child care centers and schools safe? It is safe to send children to school or child care. A cooling tower at Samuel Gompers High School tested positive for Legionella but has already been disinfected and does not pose a risk to students. No child care centers have tested positive for the bacteria. No children have been infected during this outbreak. Updated 8/8/2015 How many cooling towers were tested for Legionella? How many tested positive? Testing is ongoing. The City is providing daily updates online. Visit nyc.gov/health for the latest information. What is the City doing about the outbreak? The Health Department is actively investigating the outbreak and is testing water from cooling towers and other potential sources in the area to determine the source of the outbreak. All cooling towers found to have the bacteria have been disinfected. The Department is also ordering all buildings with cooling towers in the zone of concern to disinfect their towers and put into place a long-term maintenance plan to keep their towers free of Legionella. What does the Health Commissioner’s August 6 order require building owners to do? Those who own a building with a cooling tower in New York City must:  Disinfect all of the building’s cooling towers within 14 days of receiving the order in the mail.  Keep records at the building or buildings of the inspection and disinfection of all cooling towers. If City officials ask for these records, the owner must show them.  If the tower was already inspected and disinfected within the last 30 days, maintain records of the inspection and remediation, and make them available to the City upon request. If a building owner was sent this order in error and does not have a cooling tower that recirculates water, he or she may ignore the order.