Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the same apartment building in Rego Park, NY, has prompted an investigation by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), according to numerous news reports.
Two tenants at a Hampton House LLC apartment building, located at 93-10 Queens Boulevard, were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ within a six-month span. One remains hospitalized, while the other has recovered.
There are 108 units in the six-story building, built in 1950.
Notices posted by the management company alerted residents that “there is no evidence there even is Legionella in the building’s water system, but we want to err on the side of caution.” Residents were advised that they still can use and drink water, but individuals who are 50 and older and those with weakened immune systems is were warned to take extra steps as a precaution, including taking baths instead of showers and filling sinks slowly while washing dishes in order to avoid creating and breathing in mist.
The DOHMH noted that the Rego Park building has no cooling tower, but tests on the water system have been performed and those results are expected back in September.
Numerous sources can be home to Legionella
Legionella – the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease – is contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments. Outbreaks have been linked to a range of sources, such as:
- showers and faucets
- cooling towers (air conditioning units for large buildings)
- hot tubs that aren’t drained after each use
- swimming pools
- decorative fountains
- hot water tanks and heaters
- large plumbing systems.
Legionnaires’ disease can produce complications
After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.
Anyone can get the disease, but those at the greatest risk of infection include:
- people 50 or older
- smokers (current or former)
- heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
- people with chronic lung disease
- people with weakened immune systems.
A busy summer for Legionnaires’ disease in NYC
Earlier in August, the DOHMH investigated another Queens’ apartment complex after two residents at Latimer Gardens in Flushing were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ within a 10-month period.
In June, one person died and another six were hospitalized after contracting Legionnaires’ disease in the Lenox Hill neighborhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Also in June, two New York City police officers took ill with Legionnaires’ disease at the 23rd Precinct in Harlem. An infected water system is believed to be responsible for those illnesses.
New York City’s largest outbreak killed 12 in 2015
The largest outbreak in New York City history occurred just two years ago. Contaminated cooling towers were blamed for producing Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people and sickened more than 120 others in the South Bronx.