Outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease Cases in New York State
Albany, NY (October 4, 2018) — New Yorkers continue to contract Legionnaires’ disease at a record-setting pace. Data recently released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more than 128 cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported across New York State within the past three weeks. In fact, during the same period of time, 348 cases were reported throughout the entire country.
New York accounted for 37 percent of nationwide cases. “The citizens of New York should demand that each case be thoroughly investigated to help identify the root source and for comprehensive ‘source to tap’ solutions to be implemented,” said Brad Considine, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease.
People with asthma or COPD are at increased risk from Legionnaires’ disease, a life-threatening condition usually caught by breathing droplets of contaminated water in large building systems such as apartment buildings, hospitals, hotels, long-term care facilities and cruise ships. Droplets may become airborne in showers and faucets, cooling towers, hot tubs, decorative fountains or other sources. The bacteria can also be spread through nebulizers not cleaned thoroughly or that use contaminated tap water.
New York water systems are not specifically tested for Legionella bacteria and cases of Legionnaires’ disease that are not part of a building (two or more cases) or neighborhood outbreak are not investigated. In addition, New York City is one of only a handful of water systems in the nation that receives a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency allowing the City to avoid filtering most of its drinking water.
2018 year-to-date totals of Legionnaires’ disease cases across New York State continue to climb; outpacing the record-high totals experienced in 2017, and other recent years per CDC data presented in the graph below.
“The explosive increase in Legionnaires’ cases demonstrates that there is a greater need to monitor and treat the public water system to keep Legionella bacteria out of the homes and workplaces of New Yorkers,” said Tonya Winders, President and CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network.
“New York regulations focused solely on building equipment have had no impact on reducing the rate of Legionnaires,” added Considine. “Solving this perennial problem is going to take a proactive and system-wide approach. We stand ready to help develop solutions that prevent future infections.”
About The Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease
The Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease is a non-profit organization comprising public health and medical professionals, water system experts, water treatment professionals and manufacturers of cooling technologies to advocate for comprehensive approaches to limit the growth and spread of Legionella bacteria and other waterborne pathogens.