Fears mount in New York City as 12 reported dead in Legionnaires’ disease outbreak

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

New York City is in the midst of a public health crisis as a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak has claimed the lives of 12 city residents. The first reported case of the pneumonia-like illness was reported early last month. Since that time, more than 110 people have reportedly fallen ill and 12 have died.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Legionnaires’ disease is caused by a type of bacterium,” that when ingested or breathed in can cause an individual to develop a pneumonia-like respiratory infection. The source of the deadly New York City outbreak has been linked to water cooling towers.

While, so far, the outbreak in the city appears to be contained to the South Bronx; city health officials and politicians are urging the inspection of all cooling towers within the city. Additionally, 11 out of 39 buildings that contain the specific cooling towers that appear to be susceptible to contamination have tested positive for the Legionella bacteria.

The recent health crisis has caused widespread panic among many New Yorkers who are calling upon city officials to mandate regular inspections of water cooling systems. Additionally, there are calls to fine building owners who fail to obtain and test water samples from cooling towers and to notify residents or others who may have come into contact with a building’s water source.

Until the recent outbreak, city officials kept no records with regard to which buildings even contained cooling towers. Currently, the city’s health commissioner is requiring the owners of buildings that contain cooling towers to ensure they have the towers inspected within 14 days.

In the coming days, there will unfortunately likely be more men, women and children within the Bronx and potentially other boroughs that test positive for Legionnaires’ disease. For the individuals who are personally impacted and their family members, it may be wise to consult with an attorney who can help determine issues with regard to negligence.

Source: NBC New York, “Death Toll in Legionnaires’ Outbreak Rises to 12 as 2 More Buildings Test Positive for Bacteria,” Aug. 10, 2015

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