Source of Legionnaires Found
Outbreak Over- Health Officials Say
By Dan Gesslein
BRONX, NEW YORK (BRONX NEWS)- Health officials have identified the Opera House Hotel as the source of the deadly Legionnaires outbreak which claimed the lives of 12 people. Health experts have also declared the outbreak to be over.
Health officials made the announcement on locating the source of the outbreak on August 19. They believe the hotel was where the outbreak originated which claimed 12 lives and sickened 120 people.
“After extensive review and coordination of laboratory data at the city, state, and federal levels, we have identified the source of the outbreak in the South Bronx – the Opera House Hotel’s cooling tower,” said city Health Commissioner Bassett. “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. Historic legislation passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio should help prevent tragic outbreaks like this from occurring again.”
“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,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “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.”
Officials from the Opera House Hotel issued a statement in reaction to the Health Department's findings.
"It's particularly disappointing because our system is two years old, has the most up-to-date technology available and our maintenance plan has been consistent with the regulations that both the city and the state are putting in place," the statement said. "We have worked closely with both the city and the state since this issue first arose and have done everything requested to address the situation."
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. praised officials in helping to end the outbreak. He hailed the passive of legislation to check all cooling towers as a major step toward preventing another such outbreak.
"We needed all hands on deck, and getting help from the CDC was a huge step in combating this disease that was hurting the South Bronx," said Diaz. "Gov. Cuomo's offer of free testing for building owners, the legislation that Council Member Vanessa Gibson and I have proposed to ensure that we are proactive against the further spread of the Legionnaires Disease, and Mayor Bill de Blasio's push for testing buildings throughout the city are all positive steps forward in eliminating this problem while finding solutions to prevent yet another outbreak."
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