Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease – including the death of a senior resident at the Parker Towers in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, NY – has the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) investigating the complex, according to numerous news reports.
Both cases occurred between June and September. One person recovered, and the senior who passed away had pre-existing health conditions, which put that person at greater risk.
The DOHMH is working with building management to test the building’s hot water system, which is the likely source for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Officials believe the risk is low to tenants because the buildings do not have cooling towers, which has been the culprit in several large Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in New York City in recent years.
Parker Towers residents at greater risk should take precaution
- Don’t shower – even a cool shower – since it could create water vapor. Instead, take a bath, filling the tub slowly and minimizing your time in the bathroom while the water is running.
- Wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating mist.
- Drink cold water from the tap and start with cold water when heating water for coffee, tea or cooking.
- Wash your hands.
- You do not need to wear a mask.
Parkers Towers is a three-building complex built in 1960, standing 20 stories tall with 1,327 units.
A summer of Legionnaires’ in Queens
The Forest Hills outbreak is the fourth in Queens in 2017. The others:
- Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurred at the Latimer Gardens Houses at 34-25 Linden Place within a one-year period. The most recent incident hospitalized a resident in July.
- In late August, a second case of Legionnaires’ disease was recorded at a Hampton House LLC apartment building in Rego Park. The complex is located at 93-10 Queens Boulevard.
- In early September, the DOHMH announced that it was monitoring two apartment buildings in the Lindenwood section of Howard Beach after two cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurred within a 10-month period.
Queens not the only summer hot spot in NYC
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 NYC 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 in 2015. Contaminated cooling towers were blamed for producing Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people and sickened more than 120 others in the South Bronx.