Deadly germs attack co-op/Dept. of Health to inspect hot water after 3 cases, 1 fatal

Deadly germs attack co-op/Dept. of Health to inspect hot water after 3 cases, 1 fatal
A card handed out by the Department of Health with information about Legionnaire’s Disease.
Community News Group/ Alex Mitchell

Legionnaire’s disease has reared its ugly head again in Co-op City.

The NYC Department of Health has confirmed three cases of the disease since May, 2017, one of which turned fatal.

Residents of 100, 120 and 140 Carver Loop were notified by the DOH that their buildings’ are considered to be at risk for Legionnaire’s.

“This is just an investigation right now,” said Ricky Wong, director of Community Affairs for the Health Department. “This is not considered to be an outbreak but rather a cluster of cases,” he added.

Legionnaire’s disease was described by the department as “the worst kind of pneumonia there is.”

However, it can’t be contracted through person-to-person contact, just through inhaling water vapor.

Residents have been urged not to shower or inhale steam from hot water until there are more answers.

The symptoms are flu-like and those over the age of 50 are especially at risk.

The city only sees about 300 to 400 cases per year.

In a meeting with concerned residents of Carver Loop, Wong explained the nature of the disease as well as how it could have infiltrated the buildings.

This outbreak of the ‘legionella bacteria’ is suspected to come from the buildings’ hot water supply.

The three buildings that are effected all share that hot water supply through a ‘common link’. The DOH would not disclose if one case was found in each of the buildings or if some of the three were not effected, but are just at risk.

The DOH also intends to sample about a quarter to a third of each building’s hot water supply at random.

Sampling the bottom and top stories and then some units on the middle floors, rather than every one of the nearly 500 apartments per building.

Those test results will take around two to three weeks to process and culture.

Toni Roberts has called 100 Carver Loop her home since the 1970s.

“I’m very concerned with what’s going on,” she said.

Another resident was concerned that the meeting was called on such short notice, stating she had only found out about it that morning.

The last outbreak of Legionnaire’s in Co-op City came in 2015.

Eight cases had been reported coming from the area’s cold water source.

The cooling tanks had been disinfected at the time and there wasn’t a problem up until now.

Wong had been part of the investigation to the 2015 outbreak as well.

He also assured residents that currently their tap water is safe to drink, will not effect any resident doing laundry, cooking or cleaning.

If legionella is found to be in the buildings’ hot water supply the DOH can superheat the water or use a copper silver ionization process which was described as the ‘least invasive process,’ as well as other remedies.

Right now, it’s a waiting game for the tests to come back.

Warren Mitchell, Riverbay Corporation’s representative at the meeting, said that management has no comment to provide at this time.

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