Nabe on Edge Following #Legionnaires Meeting
Few Fears Calmed
By Dan Gesslein
BRONX, NEW YORK (BRONX NEWS)- Few fears were eased during last week’s emergency meeting on the outbreak of Legionnaires in Morris Park which has claimed one life. In fact the revelation that the infected towers were cleaned after the South Bronx outbreak and apparently had the bacteria now has many concerned.
The revelation came during the Health Department’s presentation on the latest outbreak to strike the Bronx. The towers in this latest outbreak had been cleaned after the South Bronx outbreak in the summer. Yet recent testing discovered the bacteria in the cooling towers throughout Morris Park and parts of Pelham Bay including Lehman High School.
So far in this cluster 13 total cases have been diagnosed with one fatality. Four people have been discharged and eight are still hospitalized
In addition to Lehman High School, the following locations also tested positive for the disease: the Chase bank at 2725 East Tremont; Calvary Hospital at 1740 Eastchester Rd.; Lehman High School at 2964 East Tremont; Bronx State Psychiatric at 1500 Waters Pl.; Einstein College at 1199 Sacket Ave., 1845 Eastchester Rd., and 1301 Morris Park Ave.
“I question the inspection process. We were told the tanks are clean and they passed inspection and here we are again,” said Councilman James Vacca. “What we need is an explanation as to how this occurs. It’s the same problem.”
“Here we are once again,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “We need to know what’s going on.”
In Morris Park, residents are on edge. The neighborhood has been decorated for the upcoming Bronx Columbus Day Parade yet all anyone is talking about is the outbreak. The local supermarket has a sign in its window stating that it does not have a cooling tower. This is a reference to the cooling towers in large buildings where the disease has been detected.
“We need answers. This is something that is unheard of in this day and age,” said Senator Jeff Klein. “We need to make sure that we’re safe and secure.”
“Legionnaires is a very treatable disease,” said Dr. Mary Bassett.
The city Health Commissioner said they recently noticed a group of people being diagnosed with Legionnaires living in the Morris Park community. Health officials then went to inspect the cooling towers in Morris Park and discovered the cluster.
So far no other cases have discovered of people who have been diagnosed no later than September 21.
“We’re not worried about Legionnaires being in the water,” Bassett said. “Our water is completely safe.”
The Health Commissioner said the water was safe to drink and to bathe in.
Legionnaires is present in our environment all the time. People cannot contract it from person to person. People contract the disease from water droplets or mist in which the bacteria is present. People contract the disease two to 10 days after ingesting the tainted droplets.
Right now Bassett said health officials have to wait to see if any new cases are diagnosed after the September 21st date.
“This is a bacteria that takes time to grow and Mother Nature can’t speed that up,” Bassett said. “Because we’re better at diagnosing it we see more cases of Legionnaires Disease.”
The infected usually have compromised health systems such as the elderly, smokers and those with respiratory problems.
The latest Legionnaires outbreak comes on the heals of an outbreak in the South Bronx which claimed the lives of 12 people and infected 120. There the Opera House Hotel was determined to be the cause of the outbreak.
In January, the first outbreak of Legionnaires occurred in Co-op City. Three people have already filed lawsuits against the management company that runs Co-op City for failing to maintain the cooling towers which they claim resulted in them contracting Legionnaires.
The outbreaks in such diverse neighborhoods have residents scratching their heads as to what is causing the outbreaks.
In August, Mayor deBasio and health officials declared an end to the outbreak after no new cases were discovered in the South Bronx.
Such pronouncements that the outbreaks were over by the mayor and health officials have led residents to question whether they were downplaying the outbreaks.
“I told the News that we were going to get another case and another,” said Frank Belcher.
The former Riverbay board member had been trying to get more information when the first outbreak occurred in Co-op City last winter. The outspoken critic attended the town hall meeting at Maestros’ and told the News that he heard the same official line when the Co-op City outbreak occurred. Belcher, like others question whether the water towers are the source of the contamination regardless of what health officials say.
“They keep talking about water towers. It can’t be the water towers,” Belcher said. “They tell you the water coming into the building is fine and then they tell you to clean the shower heads.”
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