Warning issued after two Howard Beach apartment building residents contract Legionnaires’ disease

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The city’s Health Department is monitoring two apartment buildings in Howard Beach after two individuals contracted Legionnaires’ disease in the past year.

Community Board 10 posted on its Facebook page a Sept. 5 letter from the Health Department to the tenants residing at 84-10 and 84-20 153rd Ave. in the Lindenwood section of Howard Beach.

“The Health Department is currently investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at building complex in Howard Beach, Queens, that occurred within a 10-month period. While the risk of infection to tenants is very low, as part of the 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,” according to a Health Department statement.

Persons with compromised immune systems — especially adults aged 50 or older and those with chronic lung disease — are considered the most vulnerable to the illness. Typically, there are between 200 and 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease citywide every year.

This is the third such episode of Legionnaires’ disease cases at Queens apartment buildings this year. Previous illnesses occurred at the Latimer Houses in Flushing and a Rego Park apartment house. Two Legionnaires’ cases were reported from the Lindenwood apartment houses, which prompted the Health Department to launch an investigation and notify the public.

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of bacterial pneumonia; people usually become infected while inhaling water vapor or mist from showers, faucets or cooling towers that contain the Legionella bacteria. Symptoms include a fever, chills, coughing and muscle aches. The Health Department advises any resident who develop such symptoms to seek medical attention right away; Legionnaires’ disease can be treated with antibiotics.

The Health Department advises those at a higher risk of being infected with Legionnaires’ to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid taking a shower, as it could create mist. Instead, take a bath, but fill the tub slowly and minimize your time in the bathroom while the faucet is running.
  • When washing dishes, fill the kitchen sink slowly to avoid creating mist.
  • Drinking cold water is safe, but always heat water on the stove or in the microwave for consumption.

Residents at the two Lindenwood buildings will be provided updates as needed. Anyone with questions is asked to call the Health Department’s Community Affairs Unit at 347-396-4161.

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