What to Know
- Two residents of an apartment building Flushing got Legionnaires' disease
- The city's health department is trying to figure out the source; water at the building is being tested
- Health officials went door to door to warn residents, but the risk to others is considered low
Two residents of an apartment building in Flushing were hospitalized after they contracted Legionnaires' disease, and one of them is still being treated as the city tests the building’s water supply, health officials said.
The residents with Legionnaires’ disease were diagnosed 10 months apart over the past year, according to officials, who said one of them has been discharged and the other is recovering at a hospital.
“The Health Department is currently investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease at Latimer Gardens that occurred within the same building over a year period,” the New York City Health Department said in a statement Tuesday.
Until results of the building's water tests are available, and out of an abundance of caution, NYCHA is installing a copper silver ionization system to disinfect the water, officials said.
The building — 34-20 137th St. — does not have a cooling tower, a common breeding ground for the Legionella bacteria, according to officials.
Last week, members of the Health Department went door to door to notify residents. Health officials also held meetings with tenants and senior center attendees on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
Residents of the apartment building told News 4 that they're fearing the worst after building staff put notices on every door saying they will be randomly testing the water.
Officials said residents can still use and drink the water at Latimer Gardens, but tenants with compromised immune systems should take a number of precautions, including minimizing the amount of water vapor in the air by not taking showers and slowly filling tubs and sinks, starting with cool water. It's also recommended that residents use cold water when possible.
Barbara Tyce-Butler has lived in the building for 13 years. She says she has been taking baths and not using the shower.
"Some people are still taking showers. I wouldn't do it," she said.
Another resident said she's been taking showers at a friend's house.
Legionnaires' disease is a type of pneumonia and is treatable and not contagious. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
There are 200 to 400 cases of the disease in New York City every year, according to a 2016 report by the health department.
Clusters of Legionnaires’ have cropped up around the city in recent years. This case is not a cluster, as more than three people have not been infected.
Last month, the Health Department concluded its investigation into a Legionnaires’ disease cluster in Manhattan, ordering dozens of cooling towers to be disinfected after one person died and six others were hospitalized in June.
Days before that, a Harlem police officer contracted the disease, apparently at his or her precinct in Harlem.
In the summer of 2015, the largest Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City history sickened more than 120 people, killing 12 of them, in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx. Another person died after a separate cluster emerged in the neighborhood in the following weeks; more than a dozen were sickened in the second cluster.