Legionella Risk Assessments are a “must” in New York City
In 2015, New York City earned the unenviable distinction of recording the worst Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in the state’s history. After the dust settled, a total of 16 deaths and 133 infections were recorded. This prompted state and city officials to take decisive steps to curb the spread of the disease.
The worst may be far from over. The Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease (APLD) issued a statement. They declared that the number of recorded cases of the disease continues to climb steadily. In fact, in 2017, the city recorded 441 cases, equivalent to a 64% increase from 2016 when a total 268 cases were reported. What is even alarming is the fact that NYC’s situation becomes graver when compared to state statistics.
The total number of cases recorded in the city accounts for roughly 44% of the state total.
Worse, the record is the highest in the United States. However, state and city officials reasoned that the massive spike in the number of recorded Legionnaires’ disease occurrences in New York City can be partially attributed to:
- The increased awareness of residents.
- Improved testing and risk assessment for Legionella
- A massive overhaul of the city’s reporting system.
Officials added that compared to other parts of the country, NYC boasts of an aggressive campaign when it comes to following up on reported cases of the disease. This is in response to the Legionella outbreak in the Bronx area in 2015. Since then the state’s Department of Health has conducted regular checks on both cooling towers and drinking water systems in health care facilities.
During this outbreak, about 57% of the cases where traced backed to health care facilities. However, advocacy groups like the APLD say that the actions of the state and local units should not stop at just monitoring cooling towers and drinking systems. These groups argue that equal attention should be given to monitoring public water systems. These are the source which carry water into residences and commercial spaces. According to available data, 35% of the reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced back to the contamination of public water systems.
Additionally, APLD enjoined state and local officials to take a proactive stance in its approach to stopping Legionnaires’ disease. So instead of reacting to outbreaks they hope to deliver an holistic and systematic approach from water distribution to consumption.