A recent CNN article by Kristina Sgueglia and Greg Botelho chronicled the latest details concerning an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in New York City. Legionnaire’s Disease is a respiratory bacterial infection that spreads through mist — most commonly found in showers, air conditioners, and in this case, cooling towers  (systems that remove heat from a water source that was used for cooling). The disease often presents itself with several symptoms including fever, cough, and chills. Thus far, five cooling towers in the South Bronx, including one located on top of Lincoln Hospital, have tested positive for the bacteria. Officials believe the outbreak is contained within these five units and have since commenced decontamination efforts.

Despite the city’s efforts, the death toll has been on the rise. On August 6, the record indicated that approximately 100 individuals had been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease and for ten of these individuals the outcome was fatal. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that approximately 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized due to Legionnaire’s Disease every year in the United States. Of these cases, between five and thirty percent are fatal. According to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, many of those affected by this particular outbreak were older adults with pre-existing medical conditions.

This outbreak has spurred further bureaucratic action within the city. Earlier, de Blasio had issued a statement that the city water supply was tested and was found to be clean. The Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr., has announced plans to create new legislation which would allow for the testing of building water supplies for Legionnaire’s Disease and other bacteria through a citywide inspection system. With these actions, officials are hoping to eliminate Legionnaire’s Disease and other potential waterborne illnesses in New York City.


Sgueglia, K. (2015, August 6). NYC Legionnaires’ Disease death toll rises. In CNN. Retrieved August 26, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/05/health/new-york-legionnaires-disease/

What is a (wet, atmospheric) cooling tower?. (n.d.). In Cooling Technology Institute. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://www.cti.org/whatis/coolingtowerdetail.shtml

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