By Gina Martinez
Two people in the Latimer Gardens Houses in Flushing have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease, according the New York City Health Department.
The department is investigating the two cases that occurred within the same building at 34-25 Linden Place, over a one-year period.
“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 Health Department spokesman said in a statement.
According to the DOH, the legionella bacteria is typically found in water systems, including indoor plumbing. Legionnaires’ Disease, a type of pneumonia, is not contagious and is easily treatable with antibiotics. People only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria the department said.
“Adults with flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention.” a DOH spokesman said.
The Health Department said one tenant remains in the hospital and is recovering, while the other has been discharged. The patients were diagnosed 10 months apart over a 12-month period. Following the department’s public notification protocol for Legionnaires’ disease, tenants are notified when there are two or more cases reported at a single address in a one-year period, DOH said.
The Health Department went door to door to notify residents July 26. The department said tenants in the building can still use and drink water, but that tenants with compromised immune systems should take precautions. According to the department, they should not take a shower, even cool showers, since it could create water vapor. They advised that instead the tenants take a bath, but to fill the tub slowly and to minimize time in the bathroom while the tub is filling. The DOH also said it is fine to wash dishes, but to fill the sink slowly to avoid creating mist and that tenants can drink cold water from the tap, but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee or cooking. The department also said tenants do not need to wear a mask but that it is important to continue to wash hands.
The Health Department announced a comprehensive plan to reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks in the city after the 2015 outbreak in the South Bronx. The plan included implementation of cooling tower regulations and the hiring of more inspectors and training of existing city personnel to inspect towers if needed, the expansion of lab capacity, and faster community notification.
There is no cooling tower in the Latimer Gardens houses. An average of 200-400 Legionnaire’s Disease cases are reported in the city every year.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart