86 cases of Legionnaire’s disease have been confirmed in the South Bronx during the last three weeks. This is the largest and deadliest outbreak of Legionnaires’disease in New York City. The disease which is a severe form of pneumonia is spread through a bacteria that grows in the water. This bacteria has been plaguing New York City cooling towers for years and there are between 200 and 300 cases reported every year in New York City. New York City residents contract the disease when they inhale the mist of cooling water contaminated with the bacteria. According to the CDC, the number of Legionnaire’s disease cases in NYC increased by 230% between 2002 and 2009. The city’s rate of Legionnaire’s disease is twice the National average. The outbreaks have been happening all around the city for decades especially in poor neighborhoods but so far the city has been neglecting the deadly problem and has no regulations in regards to cooling tower safety.
It took seven people’s deaths in the last three weeks for the City to finally take action and propose legislation to identify, regulate and inspect all New York City buildings using a cooling tower. Mayor de Blasio held a press conference yesterday at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx. He provided an update on the recent outbreak of the disease and said the new laws will be introduced to the City Council this week.