One person has died and two others have been hospitalized in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Co-op City in the Bronx- the same neighborhood where an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease killed 12 people and sickened more than 100 others in 2015.

City health officials said that the three cases were from three connected buildings in the Co-Op City neighborhood within the last 12 months. All of the patients had underlying medical conditions. Two of them were hospitalized and released. One of them has passed away.

Health Officials Warn Older Adults “Don’t Shower”

Legionnaires’ disease, a severe, sometimes fatal form of pneumonia, is transmitted when the vapor or mist of water contaminated with Legionella bacteria is inhaled. The disease poses a greater risk for adults over 50, those with underlying medical conditions and those with weakened immune systems. To minimize the health risk to this group, health officials have warned residents of the affected building(s) to avoid showering until the investigation has been completed, but said tap water in the building is safe to drink.

In 2015, the outbreak was linked to the cooling tower of the Opera House Hotel. This building does not have a cooling tower, so health officials are conducting an inspection of the building’s plumbing system.

How is Legionnaires’ Disease Spread?

Legionella bacteria are found naturally throughout the environment, usually in water. When droplets of contaminated water are inhaled, people become sick. Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted through person-to-person contact.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include:

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms usually set in between two and 14 days after exposure and last about a week. Legionnaires’ disease must be treated with antibiotics and hospitalization is frequently necessary. Nationwide, about 6,000 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are each year. About 10 percent of all cases are fatal.

Outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease are usually associated with the kind of large plumbing or air conditioning systems usually found in hospitals, hotels and apartment buildings and on cruise ships; hot tubs, and decorative fountains, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sometimes, when people breathe in water vapor that is contaminated with Legionella bacteria they develop a more mild form of Legionnaires’ Disease called Pontiac Fever.

Legionella Bacteria CDC
CDC Image of Legionella bacteria

Pontiac Fever, a Milder Form of Legionnaires’ Disease

Unlike Legionnaires’ disease, Pontiac Fever is never fatal and almost never requires hospitalization. Its symptoms develop more quickly, usually within 24 to 72 hours of exposure, and are similar to flu symptoms. They include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body Aches
  • Fatigue

2015 Co-Op City Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak

Fred Pritzker Attorney
Attorney Fred Pritzker
Eric Hageman
Attorney Eric Hageman

The cooling tower of the Opera House Hotel, located in Co-Op City in the Bronx, was the source of a 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 people and sickened more than 100 others. Laboratory testing linked the Legionella strain found in the Opera House Hotel cooling tower with the strain found in patients.

Health officials investigating the current outbreak will be taking samples from the plumbing system of the building and testing them to see if any are positive for the strain of Legionella found in the three patients identified in this outbreak.

The Legionnaires’ disease attorneys at Pritzker Hageman represent clients who have been sickened and families who have lost loved ones in Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks nationwide. Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman are our lead lawyers for these cases. You can contact them at 1-888-377-8900 or use our online free consultation form.