Despite reports that Legionnaires’ spread is slowing, one man says he got it from hospital restroom

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

New York State and the Centers for Disease Control are deploying teams to test more cooling towers for Legionella, as the number of those sickened by the disease grew to 101 today.

The outbreak has claimed the lives of 10, but officials now believe the spread of the pneumonia-like illness is slowing.

"We’re seeing a downturn in this outbreak which is very good news, and is consistent with us having found the exposure,” said City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

Despite investigators’ conviction that the source of the scourge is coming from cooling towers in the South Bronx, one man has filed a law suit alleging otherwise. His attorney says he got sick after washing his face in a public restroom at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.

“He’s lucky that he is alive,” said attorney Adam Slater, referring to his client, Marvin Montgomery, “There is permanent damages for sure. He’s on dialysis currently, his muscles have deteriorated, it’s hard for him to walk, he can’t even hold a fork.”

"We think that this could have been prevented, had the monitoring been correct,” said Slater.

But city health officials say that they have not seen multiple people in one building getting ill, which would be evidence of Legionella being in the plumbing. Instead, cases are spread around the 5 or 10 block area where the contaminated towers were found.

“That’s why it’s all consistent with cooling towers and no other source,” said Dr. Bassett, “We’re continuing to look for cooling towers, and wherever we find them, we test them and we clean them.”

They city hopes to test more towers faster, now that state investigators and the CDC are assisting.