Legionnaires’ Disease Death Toll in Bronx Climbs to 7
An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the South Bronx has claimed three more lives, bringing the death toll to seven, New York City officials said on Monday amid calls for tighter regulation of water-cooling towers, which are thought to be the origin of the illness.
Of the 17 cooling towers officials examined in the South Bronx, five — including towers at the Opera House Hotel and the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center — tested positive for the legionella bacteria, which can sicken people who inhale water droplets released from such towers. Though the five towers have since been decontaminated, the pollution has raised questions about measures in place to protect the city’s water systems.
The Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., said that while the city responded swiftly and broadly once contamination was reported, he was shocked to discover a lack of measures in place for preventive monitoring of the towers. “Why, instead of doing a good job responding, don’t we do a good job proactively inspecting?” Mr. Diaz said.
Mr. Diaz was among several elected officials at a town-hall-style meeting at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Monday night who advocated increased testing and maintenance of cooling towers.