The city is investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at a housing development in Flushing.
According to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH), the illnesses occurred at Latimer Gardens, a NYCHA public housing complex at 34-20 137th St., within the last 12 months. One patient remains in the hospital and is recovering, and the other has been discharged. The cases were reported 10 months apart.
The potentially deadly Legionnaires’ bacteria is typically found in water systems, including indoor plumbing, according to the DOH. It is not contagious, but individuals can become sick by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria.
The city agency is in the process of testing the building’s water and installing a copper silver ionization system “out of an abundance of caution.”
“While the risk of infection to tenants is very low, as part of routine protocol to assess potential sources of Legionnaires’ disease, the Health Department is working with the building management to test the building’s water supply,” a DOH spokesperson said.
“Adults with flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention,” the spokesperson continued.
The disease is treated with antibiotics and usually requires hospitalization, according to the CDC.
The city agency said residents can still use and drink their water, but tenants with weaker immune systems are encouraged to take baths instead of showers, fill their sinks slowly when washing dishes and continuously wash their hands. Wearing a mask is not necessary, according to the city agency.
An average of 200 to 400 cases of the disease are reported in the city every year, the DOH said. After a 2015 outbreak in the South Bronx caused by bacteria in a cooling tower, which left 12 people dead, the city agency announced new preventative measures, including tougher cooling tower regulations, more inspectors and faster community notification.
According to DOH, residents of this building were notified on July 26 about the investigation. The city agency them held a tenant meeting on July 27 and met with the building’s senior center attendees on July 28.
QNS has reached out to NYCHA for comment and is awaiting a response.