Since July, the Legionnaires Disease sickened more than 120 people along with killing 12 in NYC where the South Bronx was the epicenter. The disease marked the largest outbreak in New York City history. Health officials have identified a cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel as the source of the Legionnaires’ spike.
The tower at the Opera House Hotel was disinfected Aug. 1, authorities said. The last case reported in connection with the outbreak was reported two days later. Local, state and federal officials tested samples from 25 patients linked to the outbreak, including some who died, and in each case found a match to the strain of Legionella found in the cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel.
Mary Bassett, Health Commissioner, made the announcement at an afternoon news briefing on Thursday as she declared the outbreak was “over,” according to NBC News.
Approximately 128 cases of Legionnaires’ have been reported. Fortunately, no new cases have been reported since Aug. 3.
“We have not seen anyone become sick in the area of the outbreak since Aug. 3 and we are now well past the incubation period of the disease,” said Bassett.
City, state and federal officials inspected more than 700 sites in the south Bronx, where the outbreak was focused, in their search for the source. In total, 14 of 39 buildings with the type of cooling towers that lend themselves to Legionella growth were found to be contaminated, according to NBC News.
“It’s particularly disappointing because our system is 2 years old, has the most up-to-date technology available and our maintenance plan has been consistent with the regulations that both the city and the state are putting in place,” said The Opera House in a statement. “We have worked closely with both the city and the state since this issue first arose and have done everything requested to address the situation.”
The rapid outbreak raised major safety concerns that prompted the city to pass new legislation to regulate cooling towers, one of the locations where the Legionella bacteria grows.
Cooling towers across the city must be tested regularly for Legionella bacteria. If bacteria is found in the towers, it must be disinfected immediately.