Legionnaires’ infects 13, kills one in 10461 zip code

According to the Department of Health and Mental Hyigene, 15 out of 35 cooling towers located in the 10461 zip code have tested positive for Legionella.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Fifteen cooling towers and 13 people in the 10461 area tested positive for Legionnaires’ Disease, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

DOHMH explained all the patients have underlying health conditions making them susceptible to contracting the disease and one death was reported Wednesday, September 30, according to Community Board 11.

The city’s health agency revealed during a Wednesday, September 30 telephone conference call for community board members and elected officials that 15 out of 35 cooling towers in 10461 sampled last Saturday and Sunday came back positive for Legionella bacteria after all were previously cleaned under the August 6, 2015 order following this summer’s outbreak.

These cooling towers include Chase Bank at 2725 E. Tremont Avenue; Calvary Hospital at 1740 Eastchester Road; Lehman High School at 2964 E. Tremont Avenue; Bronx State Psychiatric at 1500 Waters Place and six located at Einstein College of Medicine: 1199 Sackett Avenue, 1845 Eastchester Road, 1301 Morris Park Avenue, 1250 Morris Park Avenue, 1865 Eastchester Road and 1925-1935 Eastchester Road locations.

All locations have been ordered by New York City’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary Bassett to begin cleaning and disinfection immediately.

DOHMH addressed this cluster at a Monday, September 28 conference call saying there were seven people infected with Legionnaires’, but revealed three previously undetected cases during Tuesday evening’s conference call.

All three undetected cases were hospitalized before the cluster was identified and one patient has since been discharged from the hospital, DOHMH said.

The department said it was notified of these cases between Monday, September 21 and Sunday, September 27 and the patients in the cluster live or work in the area ranging in ages 45 to 75 and are undergoing hospitalization.

DOHMH is investigating and says it is unrelated to this summer’s outbreak in the south Bronx attributed to Legionella discovered in Bronx Opera House Hotel’s cooling tower.

DOHMH urges anyone with respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, chills and difficulty breathing are advised to seek immediate medical attention.

Jeremy Warneke, CB 11 district manager, noted the 10461 area encompasses the eastern portion of Morris Park, Pelham Bay, Waterbury-LaSalle, Westchester Square and Pelham Parkway.

“With several sites in our neighborhood testing positive for Legionella bacteria, I continue to work closely with city and state officials to monitor the situation,” said Senator Jeff Klein.

“We’re concerned, but we don’t want people to panic,” said Al D’Angelo, Morris Park Community Association vice president and Morris Park resident. “It doesn’t affect drinking or bath water and can’t be spread from person to person.”

“People should be concerned, but educated first,” expressed Warneke

DOHMH explained Legionnaires’ is a type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria, Legionella which grows in warm water and exhibits symptoms such as headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea usually appearing between two to ten days after exposure to Legionella.

Legionnaires’ can be traced back to plumbing systems whose conditions can foster Legionella growth.

The disease can only be contracted by breathing Legionella contaminated mist from cooling towers, whirlpool spas, showers and faucets harboring Legionella.

Groups most at risk include the elderly, cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people receiving immunosuppressive medicine which weakens their immune systems.

Legionnaires’ can be treated with antibiotics and in most cases, patients get better with early treatment, but may need to undergo hospitalization.

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