The source of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City has been identified and the outbreak is over, health officials said Thursday.
Since July 10, there were 124 cases of the illness in the South Bronx, and 12 of those patients died.
The source of the outbreak was the Opera House Hotel cooling tower, officials said in a news release. Strains of Legionella bacteria in samples taken from the hotel’s cooling tower matched the strains in patients with the disease, they noted.
“We eliminated the danger posed by the Opera House Hotel’s cooling tower as soon as it tested positive for disease-causing Legionella. Today, all cooling towers in the affected area have been disinfected, and all cooling towers across the city are being evaluated and disinfected if necessary,” Dr. Mary Bassett, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said in the news release.
New legislation passed by the city “should help prevent tragic outbreaks like this from occurring again,” Bassett added.
No new cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported since Aug. 3, which is longer than the two-week incubation period for the disease. Therefore, officials declared the South Bronx outbreak over.
The city health department is still trying to determine how the Opera House Hotel’s cooling tower became the source of the outbreak.
“Control of Legionella is complex, and disease detection, environmental science and laboratory advance work helped bring this unfortunate outbreak to an end. We hope to advance the science about how to improve control from New York’s experience,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in the news release.
“The quick and thorough reaction from local and state authorities likely prevented many others from developing Legionnaires’ disease. CDC is appreciative of our collaborative work with New York’s public health experts,” she added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Legionnaires’ disease.