Source: https://patch.com, July 11, 2017
By: Brendan Krisel
After testing every cooling tower in the Lenox Hill neighborhood following a June outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, the city Department of Health found that more than 40 towers tested positive for trace amounts of Legionella bacteria, a department spokesman told Patch.
The city tested the neighborhood’s 116 cooling towers and found that 42 towers had trace amounts of the bacteria, the Department of Health spokesman said. Of those 42 towers that tested positive, 24 had levels that could cause the disease to spread to humans, according to the spokesman.
The city has ordered buildings to fully clean and disinfect the towers that tested positive, but has not identified where the towers that tested positive are located.
“During the field investigation, disease detectives closely monitored laboratory reports for any additional cases while water ecologists sampled every cooling tower in the cluster area,” the spokesman said in a statement sent to Patch.
“Approximately 100 Health Department personnel were involved in the response as they sought to prevent additional cases and raise awareness. The Health Department has the most sophisticated disease monitoring system of any municipal health department in nation – every day, disease detectives monitor hospital emergency departments and laboratory reports for over 75 reportable diseases, and water ecologists quickly respond to environmental hazards related to Legionnaires’ and other diseases to keep New Yorkers safe.”
The tests were conducted after the city identified a Legionnaires’ disease cluster in the Lenox Hill neighborhood in June. During the outbreak seven people were hospitalized after contracting the disease. Of those seven people, one person who was elderly and had “significant underlying health conditions” died, the Department of Health said in June.
After the June 16 outbreak one more person who worked in the area became sick with Legionnaires’ disease and was hospitalized, but has recovered, a Department of Health spokesman said.
The city has closed its investigation into the Legionnaires’ cluster even though it was unable to discover the source of the outbreak. The Department of Health is rarely able to match a patient’s DNA with the source of an outbreak such as a cooling tower, a department spokesman told Patch.
Legionnaires’ symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea and generally surface two to 10 days after contact with the bacteria Legionella. Common culprits in the spread of the Legionella bacteria include cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems, the Department of Health said.
The disease cannot be spread from one person to another, the Department of Health said in a statement.