Leptospirosis cluster kills one, sickens 2

Leptospirosis cluster kills one, sickens 2
Councilman Salamanca joined 750 Grand Concourse residents in their fight for better living conditions after a third leptospirosis case was discovered at their building.
Photo courtesy of Councilman Rafael Salamanca’s Office

Elected officials and Grand Concourse residents are demanding change after a rare bacterial disease claimed a person’s life.

According to Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene identified three leptospirosis cases on one block of the Grand Concourse.

One patient diagnosed in December has died while the others, one of whom is a 750 Grand Concourse tenant, have recovered.

On Monday, February 13, DOHMH confirmed the third case at 750 Grand Concourse and immediately baited its basement.

The remaining cases occurred in non-residents who spent significant time on the block but not inside the building.

DOHMH issued a health alert to healthcare providers and informed tenants of the cluster by distributing informative bilingual letters.

Tenants were provided protective rubber gloves and masks to wear when entering the building’s basement.

DOHMH briefed the NYC Department of Buildings, NYC Housing Preservation and Development and local elected officials of the situation.

DOB vacated eight illegal single room occupancy units in the basement while the American Red Cross offered tenants relocation assistance.

The vacate orders were issued for illegal subdivisions and lack of secondary egress unrelated to the infestation.

DOHMH, HPD and DOB are working with landlord, Ved Parkash, to remediate rodent infestations, remove debris, clean, seal cracks and holes, exterminating and setting traps.

Joint inspections of 750 Grand Concourse and neighboring buildings will be conducted by DOHMH.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread by animal urine and is rarely spread through human contact.

It can enter through the eyes, nose, mouth, wounds or cuts in the skin.

Sickness occurs between two days to four weeks after exposure with symptoms including a mild illness with fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting or diarrhea.

Those infected rarely develop a life-threatening illness affecting their kidneys and liver.

Leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics.

Dogs can contract leptospirosis and may experience fatigue, loss of appetite and vomiting.

“Seven-fifty Grand Concourse has long been regarded as one of the worst buildings in the city, with nearly 1,500 complaints of all kinds, including rodents, with many unresolved,” expressed Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

“Ved Parkash bears responsibility for this tragedy and must be held accountable,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

Senator Gustavo Rivera wrote to DOHMH and HPD asking they launch a full investigation of Parkash’s buildings and implement a plan addressing infestations at his properties.

HPD said as of Tuesday, February 21 there are 109 open violations at 750 Grand Concourse with 19 Class A non-hazardous violations, 77 Class B hazardous violations and 12 Class C immediately hazardous violations.

Parkash was ranked ‘number one’ on the public advocate’s ‘100 Worst Landlords in New York City’ in 2015 for accumulating 2,369 violations in 11 of his 43 buildings. Parkash owns approximately 40 buildings in the Bronx.

He dropped to fifth place on last year’s list for 257 units in four buildings with 992 HPD violations and 28 DOB violations.

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