Elliot Olsen is one of the few lawyers in the country who can call himself a “Legionnaires lawyer.” If you or a family member were sickened in this Tracey Towers outbreak, you might have reason to file a Legionnaires lawsuit. Please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC Health) returned to the Tracey Towers in the Bronx and informed residents that two more tenants had been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, according to the Norwood News. That doubled the number of cases at the housing complex to four in the past year.

All four tenants who have been confirmed with the respiratory illness live in the tower at 20 West Mosholu Parkway North. The adjacent tower at 40 West Mosholu Parkway South has been illness-free.

Tracey Towers is among the tallest buildings in the Bronx, at 38 and 41 stories. It’s the second-largest cooperative housing development in the Bronx, behind Co-Op City, which is the largest of its kind in the world. (Co-Op City dealt with a Legionnaires outbreak in 2018 in which one resident was killed and two others sickened.)

Tracey Towers outbreak: shower heads switched

Jean Hill, president of the Tracey Towers Tenants Association, said shower heads were being changed at 20 West Mosholu as an extra precaution, and the same will occur at 40 West Mosholu. “People were concerned last week; now they’re angry,” Hill told the Norwood News.

The source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, has yet to be found. Water testing continues throughout the complex, as do interviews of those sickened to try to pinpoint where they have been, on or off the property.

Tracey Towers outbreak: no cooling towers

Cooling towers have been frequent culprits in Legionnaires outbreaks in New York City over the years, including the biggest outbreak in city history in 2015. Tracey Towers, however, does not have cooling towers, which is why the complex’s water system is suspected.

The largest outbreak in New York City history occurred in the Bronx 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.

Tracey Towers outbreak: residents warned

Ricky Wong, NYC Health’s executive director of community affairs, told residents to take precautions to minimize their risk of exposure to Legionella.

Since Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor, tenants have been reminded that even fast-running water in someone’s sink – warm or cool – can create vapor that can be inhaled.

The following preventative measures should be followed by anyone at a higher risk for Legionnaires’ disease:

  • Don’t shower – 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 a mist.
  • Drink cold water from the tap and start with cold water when heating water for coffee, tea, or cooking.
  • Continue to wash your hands.
  • Do not wear a mask – it’s unnecessary.
Tracey Towers outbreak: higher risk

The majority of people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years old and older – especially those who smoke or have a chronic lung condition – are at a higher risk.

Other people more susceptible to infection include:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
  • people with suppressed immune systems

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death – and about 10 percent of those infected will die from the infection.

Tracey Towers outbreak: be wary

Seek care from your health-care provider if you are a resident, employee or have visited the Tracey Towers recently and are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, which usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella.

Initial symptoms include:

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

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath also called dyspnea
  • chest pains also called pleurisy
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Tracey Towers outbreak: all too familiar

The Tracey Towers outbreak is the latest Legionnaires’ disease outbreak to affect the Bronx:

  • In February, NYC Health confirmed two cases at the Bronx River Houses, which occurred within the previous 12 months.
  • In September 2018, two residents were diagnosed with Legionnaires at Fort Independence Houses in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood.
  • In October 2017, five residents of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale were diagnosed with the disease.

Also, in the summer of 2018, Legionella bacteria were found in the water supply of the borough’s Jacobi Medical Center, but no illnesses were reported.

Tracey Towers outbreak: an NYC problem

On average, New York City records up to 500 cases of Legionnaires’ disease every year. In 2017, New York State set a record with 1,009 confirmed cases, a record that was projected to be broken in 2018. (Note: Final totals for 2018 have yet to be released, but by Sept. 27 of that year, 875 confirmed cases had been recorded, and 1,180 were projected by year’s end.)