Sick with Legionnaires?
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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients who have been harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member have contracted Legionnaires in one of these NYC outbreaks, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Two Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks are under investigation by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health), one in Manhattan and the other in Queens.

NYC Health confirmed two cases of the respiratory illness at Manhattan Plaza (400 West 43rd Street) in Hell’s Kitchen, although no information was provided on when the residents took ill.

NYC Health also reported that two people have been sickened in Queens within the past 12 months at 20-02, 20-04, 20-06, 20-08, 20-10 and 20-12 Seagirt Boulevard, according to a notice posted on Twitter.

“The risk of getting sick from a building’s water system is very low, especially for healthy people” according to NYC Health commissioner Oxiris Barbot, in a notice to tenants. “The most important thing you can do is get medical attention right away if you start having symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough. This is even more important if you are aged 50 or older (especially if you smoke cigarettes), have chronic lung disease, have a weakened immune system or take medicines that weaken your immune system.”

The notice also provided the following list of Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DON’T take a shower – not even a cool shower – since it could create water vapor (mist). Instead, take a bath, but fill the tub slowly. Try to minimize time in the bathroom while the tub is filling. If you don’t have a bathtub, either take a sponge bath or contact building management for a modified shower option.
  • DO: It’s fine to wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating a mist.
  • DO: It’s fine to drink cold water from the tap, but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee or cooking.
  • DON’T wear a mask. It’s unnecessary.

NYC Health is working with building management at both locations, testing the water to try and locate a source for the Legionella, which is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

Manhattan Plaza is located two blocks west of the city’s theater district and has been dubbed “Broadway’s Bedroom,” as 70 percent of the building’s nearly 1,700 units are occupied by performing artists, with the balance held by elderly tenants and residents living in subsidized housing.

NYC outbreaks: woes across state

Since July of last year, New York City has battled numerous outbreaks, including these incidents:

  • The Brielle at Seaview, a non-profit, assisted-living facility for seniors on Staten Island, suffered an outbreak last month when a second case of the disease was diagnosed within eight months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a Legionnaires’ disease “outbreak” as two or more cases associated with the same possible source during a 12-month period.
  • In February, NYC Health confirmed that two cases of  Legionnaires’ disease occurred at the Bronx River Houses within the past year.
  • Two cases of Legionnaires also were confirmed last November and December at Park Slope’s New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital.
  • The Sugar Hill Project was confirmed as the source for two outbreaks in upper Manhattan in 2018, outbreaks that resulted in two deaths and almost 60 people sickened.
  • In October 2018, Legionella was detected at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence in Long Island City after a second Legionnaires’ disease case was confirmed within the last year.
  • In July 2018, two individuals were diagnosed with Legionnaires at Clinton Manor, a housing development in Hell’s Kitchen.
NYC outbreaks: warm water problematic

According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (scientific name: Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States every year. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

The bacteria, which thrive in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • whirlpools and hot tubs
  • physical-therapy equipment
  • swimming pools
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • decorative fountains
  • water systems of large buildings (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • large plumbing systems
  • air-conditioning system cooling towers.
NYC outbreaks: disease complications

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can occur, including:

  • respiratory failure: caused by changes to the lung tissue, or oxygen loss in arteries supplying the lungs.
  • septic shock: this can occur when Legionella produce toxins that enter the bloodstream and cause a drop in blood pressure, leading to the loss of adequate blood supply to the organs.
  • kidney failure: those same Legionella toxins can damage the kidneys’ ability to eliminate waste from the blood, resulting in kidney failure.
  • endocarditis: an infection of the inner lining of the heart that can affect the strength of the heart to maintain adequate blood flow through the body.
  • pericarditis: swelling of the pericardium, which is the primary membrane around the heart. This can also affect the ability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body.
NYC outbreaks: disease symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, other signs and symptoms develop, including:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain (pleurisy)
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.