The city health department says that a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that left one person dead in the Bronx this fall likely originated from a cooling tower at the Bronx Psychiatric Center in Morris Park.
The cooling tower has since been cleaned and disinfected. "The Psychiatric Center worked diligently to clean and disinfect the cooling tower as soon as it tested positive for the disease causing Legionella," Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement. "All cooling towers across the affected area were evaluated and disinfected as needed."
The outbreak, which was identified in September and continued through November, sickened about 14 Bronx residents aged 45 to 75, all of whom reportedly had underlying health issues. One person succumbed to the disease.
The cooling towers previously tested negative for Legionella and were disinfected in August, following a massive Legionnaires' outbreak in the South Bronx that killed a dozen people and sickened about 120. That outbreak was traced to a cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel in the area, and prompted health officials to make new regulations mandating the disinfection of cooling towers.
The health department says that they will "remain vigilant" for any further cases of Legionnaires', though cooling towers in the area affected by the most recent outbreak have been treated. We know that because Legionella exists in the environment we will continue to see sporadic cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the city, but the disease is curable with common antibiotics," Bassett said.