Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
Call (612) 337-6126
Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at Bronx River Houses, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health) confirmed that two cases of Legionnaires’ disease occurred at the Bronx River Houses within the past year.

“The risk to residents of contracting Legionnaires’ disease remains very low,” according to a statement posted by NYC Health on every floor of the low-income public housing project.

Despite the health department’s reassurance, tenants fear exposure to the potentially deadly bacterial disease.

“The Department of Health and NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) wanted to speak about it,” Norma Saunders, the Bronx River Houses resident leader, told News 12 The Bronx. “We have 11 buildings. Two of the buildings are NYCHA senior buildings. We have a community center which houses seniors and youth programs, so we really need to know if we’re in danger of getting this disease.”

“I haven’t heard anything about that,” resident Eric Webb said to WNBC 4 New York, adding that it is a concern “ ’cause I drink the water.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria, which are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States on a yearly basis. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Bronx River Houses consists of 10 14-story high-rise buildings and one 6-story low-rise building with more than 1,250 apartments and 3,000-plus residents in the Soundview section of The Bronx. The 13.94-acre development, which opened in 1951, is bordered by East 174th Street, Harrod, and Bronx River avenues.

Tenants received written notification from NYC Health informing them that water testing would be performed. Health and NYCHA officials met with tenants at 1571 and 1575 East 174th Street in late January to discuss the situation and answer questions.

No information was provided on the timing of the two tenants’ illnesses or what their current conditions were.

If you’re sick, get checked

NYC Health urges residents or employees of Bronx Rivers Houses, visitors to the housing project, or individuals traveling through the immediate area who are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms to seek “immediate medical attention.” Those symptoms:

  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • fever
  • muscle aches
  • headaches
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Elsewhere in New York City

Legionella found at UHB

Water testing at University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) uncovered a high percentage of Legionella bacteria in the building’s water supply, causing the water taps to be temporarily shut down in the 342-bed teaching hospital.

Officials for the hospital, which is part of the SUNY Downstate campus, announced that staff and patients would use only bottled water for drinking and brushing their teeth, and to avoid showering until the system can be remediated. “Bath in a bag” products are being provided instead of showers.

“While we understand that these actions may cause concern, we want to assure the UHB community that we are taking all appropriate actions to address the matter,” Dawn Skeete-Walker, associate vice president of communications and marketing at SUNY Downstate, said in a statement.

The restrictions will be enforced until showerhead replacements, and the installation of a filtration system in ice machines have been completed, and the state Department of Health has reviewed and approved the institution’s remediation, according to Skeete-Walker.

“It’s important to stress that Legionnaires’ disease is not spread from person-to-person,” Skeete-Walker said. “The hospital is open and safe for patients, staff, and visitors.”

“According to an internal memo, a patient at the hospital was recently diagnosed with the disease, but was most likely already infected before coming to the hospital,” the New York Daily News reported. “It is unclear if there is any connection between that patient and the bacterial strain behind the new precautions.”

Legionella also was discovered at Park Slope’s New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in December.

Upgrade for NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln

NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln completed installation of a “state-of-art, antimicrobial” cooling tower. The towers include antimicrobial features that will reduce the growth of dangerous bacterias, including Legionella. The primary function of the towers will be to support the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system.

Engineers believe the modern towers will reduce energy consumption by about 40 percent.

The new towers replace towers that had reached the end of their lifespan, not because of any health concerns they had caused. Improved safety to the community was a significant factor in their selection.