A Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in New York has sickened 100 people, killing ten of them. Although most of the case are concentrated in the South Bronx, the city has ordered owners and operators of cooling towers throughout the city to disinfect them if they haven’t done so within the last 30 days.
Legionnaires’ Disease is transmitted when water contaminated with legionella bacteria mist is inhaled. This water mist can come from showers, faucets, whirlpools, swimming pools, fountains or cooling towers in air conditioning systems. It cannot be transmitted from person to person.
“The order instructs the owners or managers to test and disinfect their cooling tower within the next 14 days,” Mayor Bill de Blasio, told CBS NewYork. “Failure to comply with the commissioner’s order is a misdemeanor. We are doing this out of an abundance of caution.”
The state is offering free legionella testing for all eligible buildings. “Providing free testing should help restore the public’s confidence that the government is taking every precaution possible,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told CBS New York. “This expanded testing will also provide the state valuable data as to the amount of legionella in systems across the state and any potential dangers in surrounding neighborhoods in the Bronx or other parts of the state.”
Symptoms of Legionnaires Disease include pneumonia-like symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue, confusion, aches and shortness of breath. These symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after exposure.