Bacteria linked to Legionnaires’ disease found in water supply at Bronx Hospital: officials

THE BRONX — Officials for NYC Health and Hospitals confirmed they found low levels of bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease in the water supply at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.

NYC  Health and Hospitals released the following statement:

“As part of our aggressive water monitoring program, our routine, required testing of our potable water supply found very low levels of Legionella bacteria at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi. Per guidance from the New York State Department of Health, which regulates hospitals, we have taken steps to prevent any impact on our patients, staff, or visitors. Safety is always our highest priority.”

Some of the steps include using bottled water, installing new water filters on showers, and making packaged bath wipes for daily hygiene available.

Officials said the risk to patients, staff, and visitors is very low, and there is no risk to the surrounding community. Patients and staff have been notified of the finding.

There are currently no patients with Legionnaires’ disease at the Bronx Hospital.

The NYC Health Department reported a community cluster of 27 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in a section of Lower Washington Heights in Manhattan. Earlier this month,  a person sickened by Legionnaires’ disease in Manhattan died.

WHAT IS LEGIONNAIRES’ DISEASE?

Legionnaires’ is a form of pneumonia contracted by breathing in water droplets contaminated with the bacterium Legionella. Every year, there are between 200 and 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the city.

Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person. Groups at highest risk for Legionnaires’ disease include people who are middle-aged or older, especially cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs). Those with symptoms should call their doctor and ask about testing for Legionnaires’ disease.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria.

The Health Department is urging residents in the area with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, to promptly seek medical attention. The Health Department has alerted health care providers in the area about this cluster.

TREATMENT

Legionnaires’ disease can be deadly, but is treatable with antibiotics. Most people get better with early treatment, although they may need to be hospitalized. Others have died from complications of the disease.

The AP contributed to this report.