Health Dept ID’s Sources of Legionnaires’ Disease, Confuses Public

City identified two sources of Legionella, and affected units have begun the process of remediation

City continues aggressive testing and monitoring



City health officials have identified and are overseeing the cleaning of two sources of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx. Cooling towers at Lincoln Hospital and Concourse Plaza were identified as sources of contamination. Only problem is there are two Concourse Plazas, a senior apartment complex  and a mall and cineplex. Both are on East 161st Street in the Concourse section of the Bronx.


The Health Department’s vague identification caused news outlets to alternately identify the Concourse Plaza apartment complex for seniors and the Concourse Plaza mall. A WABC-TV News reporter alarmed tenants at the senior citizens apartment complex. The Daily News, and NY1 News identified the mall and cineplex cooling system as the culprit.


Lincoln HospitalThe Department is working with the owners of both cooling towers and they have begun the process of remediation to reduce the potential for exposure. The City is also testing other possible sources and will order decontamination of any additional sources.


The Health Department is testing 10 additional sites surrounding the affected area. The Health Department is also interviewing patients and reviewing records to determine whether cases share a common exposure. (Perhaps, they shopped or attended a movie at Concourse Plaza.)


Initial steps for decontamination include treating the cooling tower where Legionella bacteria were found with a disinfectant, and continuously flushing the system with fresh water. There have been 46 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease reported in the South Bronx since July 10, 2015. Nine of the hospitalized patients have been discharged. Two patients have died.


“People have to understand that this is a disease that can be treated, it is, thank God, not contagious,” Mayor de Blasio said.


Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person, and it is treatable with antibiotics. As with any infection, early diagnosis is desirable. The vast majority of patients recover from the infection.


“We will continue to be vigilant on all fronts, ensuring the health and safety of New Yorkers by both addressing Legionnaires’ at its source, and ensuring affected New Yorkers who need it are getting proper treatment,” said de Blasio.


“As we continue to investigate the potential sources of this cluster, we remind New Yorkers that this is a very treatable disease and we urge anyone who might be experiencing symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease to seek medical attention immediately,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.


“The New York City water supply does not pose a risk, so people should continue to feel confident in drinking tap water to stay cool during this period of hot weather,” asserted Dr. Bassett.

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