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Death Toll in New York Legionella Outbreak Rises to 12

August 11, 2015
Public Health

78261917JH022_EnvironmentThe worst outbreak of Legionella in New York City history has so far resulted in 12 fatalities and 113 cases. Officials have traced the bacteria to 18 cooling towers that tested positive in the South Bronx area of the city.

The results have prompted the mayor’s office to issue an order requiring all 2,500 cooling towers across the five boroughs of the city to be checked and cleaned within the next 10 days. All but one of the victims were older than 40 and had underlying health problems.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is hopeful that the outbreak is now under control, although he admits the biggest public health issue New York has faced since last year’s Ebola scare is a trip into the unknown. “We are dealing with a new set of realities we have never experienced before in this city.All three levels of government have not encountered this dynamic,” he said.

No new cases have been reported since August 3. Up until now there has been no requirement to register cooling towers in New York, and although a voluntary register has been introduced, officials believe that the current figures are likely to underestimate the numbers present. In an attempt to address the issue, the City Council will be asked to pass a new bill later this week which will introduce compulsory registration with the city’s Department of Buildings along with the requirement to undertake regular inspection, testing, cleaning and disinfection.