Health Officials Discuss Legionnaires’ Outbreak Concerns With Worried Residents

What to Know

  • Health officials held a meeting for worried Lenox Hill residents to talk about the Legionnaires’ outbreak in the neighborhood
  • The disease has sickened at least seven people and one patient who had underlying health conditions died
  • The Health Department is focusing on cooling systems on rooftops and is awaiting test results

Concerned people packed a room in the Lenox Hill neighborhood to get answers about the Legionnaires’ outbreak that has sickened more than a half dozen people.

Although there have been no new cases of Legionnaires’ in the neighborhood in the last five days, health officials say they are not out of the woods yet.

Sheri Greenstein and her neighbors are worried after at least seven Upper East Side residents have contacted the illness. That is why they decided to attend the meeting.

“It was educational so that we could know what to look for in case we came down with Legionnaires,’” Greenstein said.

The bacteria that causes the disease has been found in water cooling systems on rooftops, which is where the Health Department is focusing their efforts and cleaning is underway.

“We are awaiting test results but have issued orders for extra cleaning in case we had concerns about them,” NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett said.

Out of the seven cases, one person died. That patient had underlying health conditions, the Health Department said. All the patients are over 65 years of age, and some are in their 90s.

Cooling towers were at the center of a Legionnaires’ outbreak back in 2015 in the Bronx, which sickened more than 70 people.

Bassett is warning people to be vigilant of symptoms, which can be similar to the flu.

“I’m very concerned,” Sheila Flaxman of the Upper West Side said. “I believe in being proactive rather than reactive, and I learned that it takes two to seven days for you to get the symptoms.”

The Health Department won’t geographically define where exactly the outbreak zone is, but it is spreading the knowledge to fight back. Early treatment is the key.

“I don't want anyone to think that there's any border over which water mist won't travel,” Bassett said.

Bassett said the test results on the cooling towers will be back in about two weeks.

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