QUEENS, NY – At least a dozen people have been sickened in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Queens in the past two weeks, according to the New York City Health Department.
The Health Department is testing water from all cooling towers in downtown Flushing where 12 cases of the disease were been confirmed and two are being investigated.
The pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria typically includes symptoms like fever, cough, chills and muscle aches and most cases can be traced back to plumbing systems, like cooling towers, with conditions favorable to the bacteria’s growth, according to the department.
“As with our previous Legionnaires’ disease investigations, we are in the process of investigating the source of the cluster and are working with building owners in the area to rapidly test and clean cooling towers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.
Results from those tests will come in two stages. The first step will identify towers with evidence of the legionella bacteria that could make people sick and order them to immediately increase levels of biocide that kills the bacteria within 24 hours. The second step, which takes about two weeks, will be to grow that bacteria in a culture to see if it is capable of causing the disease. The owner of any building where such bacteria is found will be ordered to fully clean and disinfect their cooling tower, the department said.
The Health Department will host a community meeting later this week to address residents’ questions and concerns about the Legionnaires’ disease spread, a spokesperson told Patch.
For more information about Legionnaires’ disease, visit the Health Department website.
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Originally published Oct 24, 2017.