Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease in New York City, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
Legionella bacteria was detected at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence (BAVR) in Long Island City after a second Legionnaires’ disease case was confirmed within the last year, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).
The announcement took place as part of the DOHMH’s public notification protocol for Legionnaires’ disease, which requires officials to inform tenants when there are two or more cases reported at a single building in a 12-month period.
Environmental testing confirmed the existence of elevated levels of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, within the center’s water system. Health officials did not release the timing of when the testing was ordered and water samples collected.
“NYC has the most aggressive Legionnaire’s [sic] prevention & response system in the country,” tweeted Jaclyn Rothenberg, deputy press secretary in the NYC mayor’s office. “The Health Dept. & Department of Homeless Services are cleaning the water systems in this building. We’ve notified residents & will take any measure necessary to keep them safe & healthy,”
Both of the infected patients have recovered, according to health officials, although no information was released on:
- the timing of the illnesses;
- whether hospitalization was required;
- the genders or ages of the individuals;
- and whether they were residents, employees, or volunteers at the shelter.
“There are no new cases of Legionnaires’ disease, and the risk to clients remains very low,” the DOHMH wrote in a statement. “Following our protocol, we have notified tenants and are working with DSS [New York City Department of Social Services] on short- and long-term remediation plans.”
The BAVR is funded by the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and is located at 21-10 Borden Ave. in Queens. The facility opened in 1987 and provides medical and psychiatric services and supportive housing assistance to 243 homeless veterans (216 male, 27 female). ICL works closely with DHS and the Veteran’s Administration to provide coordinated and comprehensive services to homeless veterans residing at BAVR.
Residents are still able to use and drink water, but those at higher risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease are advised to take additional precautions, including using modified showers provided by building management, and starting with cold water when heating water for drinking or cooking.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of lung infection. It is treatable with antibiotics, although if it is not diagnosed early, it can lead to severe complications and even become deadly. It is not contagious; that is, it cannot be passed from person to person.
An estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur yearly in the U.S. Only 5,000 cases are reported, however, because of its nonspecific signs and symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Despite the health department’s assurances, if you live, work or volunteer at the BAVR and are feeling flu-like symptoms, you should see your health-care provider out of an abundance of caution.
Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are similar to those of other types of pneumonia, and they can even resemble those of influenza (flu). Those symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- muscle aches
- gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Who is at highest risk?
Most healthy people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, although anyone can become ill from the bacteria. Those most susceptible to infection include:
- people 50 years of age or older
- smokers, both current and former
- heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
- people with chronic lung disease
- people with compromised immune systems
- recipients of organ transplants
- individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one).
Where does Legionella grow?
Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets, usually in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria grow best in warm water and are found primarily in human-made environments.
Legionella can grow in many parts of a building’s water system that is continually wet, and certain devices can spread contaminated water droplets. Some examples of devices where Legionella can grow and spread through aerosolization or aspiration (when water accidentally goes into the lungs while drinking) include:
- cooling towers
- hot- and cold-water storage tanks
- water heaters
- shower heads and hoses
- electronic and manual faucets
- ice machines
- hot tubs
- medical equipment (such as CPAP machines, hydrotherapy equipment, bronchoscopes, etc.)
- faucet flow restrictors
- water filters
- pipes, valves, and fittings
- centrally installed misters, atomizers, air washers, and humidifiers
- non-stream aerosol-generating humidifiers
- water hammer arrestors
- expansion tanks
- infrequently used equipment including eyewash stations
- decorative fountains.