An inmate at Rikers Island has tested positive for Legionnaires' disease, though officials say the case is not linked to the outbreak in the South Bronx that has sickened 115 people and killed 12 since July.
The 63-year-old inmate, who has not been identified and was being treated at the Bellevue Hospital Prison Ward in Manhattan when he was diagnosed, has been at Rikers since December 2014. City officials say the Department of Correction's cooling towers were already disinfected last month, but will be cleaned again as a precaution. The inmate is being treated with antibiotics.
At a press conference yesterday, Mayor de Blasio repeated reiterated that the outbreak is tapering off. "We are confident that the Legionnaires’ outbreak is now ending," he said. "We now have gone seven days with no new cases."
City and state inspectors have identified legionella bacteria in the water cooling towers of 18 buildings, 11 of which are located amid the cluster center for the outbreak in the Couth Bronx. The Times reported earlier this week that officials have identified the Opera House Hotel on East 149th Street as a potential source of the outbreak, though the hotel's owners say the city has never informed them of such.
"We are deeply concerned that there has been a rush to judgment as part of some game of one-upsmanship between city and state officials," Glenn Isaacs, VP of the Empire Hotel Group, said in a press release, alluding to the apparent political struggle that has characterized de Blasio's and Governor Cuomo's response to the outbreak. "Why else would the city rush out with anonymous statements to the Times? Was the city trying to take credit for solving the ‘mystery’ of how this all started?"
So far 115 people have contracted the illness—12 have died, and 79 have been treated and discharged. The city announced yesterday that they'll be teaming up with the state government to combat the outbreak, with City Council passing new regulations and legislation about testing and maintaining cooling towers that the governor will make policy statewide.