The outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has citizens of the Bronx, New York, worried about their health and well-being as officials continue to expect the number of cases to rise considerably over the next week. Despite the worry, there is no speculation about a potential quarantine of those who are infected.
Sources of the outbreak have been narrowed down to a cooling tower within the city, although the exact cooling tower has not yet been confirmed. Sources have also stated that a hot tub at a local fitness club could also be a potential source. There are at least five buildings that have tested positive for the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, one of which is a hotel. According to the New York Times, the buildings include a Verizon Office Building, the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, the Streamline Plastics Company, and the Opera House Hotel.
Since the outbreak began, Legionnaires’ disease has taken the life of four people and infected 65 known patients. Residents of the Bronx are frightened that the outbreak was caused by more than just cooling towers and a hot tub, showing concern that the disease may have entered the water supply.
ABC 7 Online confirmed that the cause for worry is not unwarranted, stating that deputy health commissioner Dr. Jay Varma believes the number of cases will rise exponentially over at least the next seven days until all sources of Legionnaires’ disease are discovered and properly disinfected.
“We think it is very possible that there will be an increase in cases over the next seven days. We are also quite confident that after that time, the number of cases will go down. We can never know for sure what the future holds and we are working very aggressively to make sure people at risk — people in senior centers, people at homeless shelters, people with other medical problems — get the message to pay attention to their health.”
Thus far, all confirmed cases have been concentrated within a localized area. Officials believe the locality of the outbreak will allow for quicker discovery of the sources and decontamination of the sites. However, there are at least 20 more cooling towers that officials hope to test for potential Legionnaire’s disease infection.
Bronx Bureau President Ruben Diaz Jr. stated that the outbreak could have been prevented if there were measures in place to inspect the coolant systems for such potential diseases. He stated that he will work with the City Council to remedy the lack of inspections in order to prevent future outbreaks.
At this time, worry about water supply contamination has only been on the minds of residents; officials have shown no concern.
[Photo Courtesy: CDC/Wikipedia]