NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A cooling tower at the Bronx Psychiatric Center was blamed for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that left one person dead in the Morris Park section of the Bronx earlier this fall, officials said Friday.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Friday that after extensive sampling of cooling towers for Legionella bacteria, the cooling tower at the psychiatric center was identified as the source of the outbreak.
The psychiatric center cooperated fully with all agencies involved and has disinfected its tower, the department said. The tower was inspected and disinfected on Aug. 5, and a test from Aug. 17 showed no Legionella, the department said.
One person died in the outbreak and numerous others were sickened. All had underlying health conditions and contracted the disease before Sept. 21, officials said.
New cooling tower cleaning regulations were put in place after that outbreak.
Legionnaires’ disease — a form of pneumonia especially dangerous for the elderly and for people with underlying health issues — can usually be traced to places favorable to Legionella growth such as cooling towers, hot water tanks, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers and condensers in large air conditioning systems. The city says its drinking water supply has not been affected.
It is spread through contaminated mist and cannot be spread from person to person.