UPDATE 8/10/15: According to today’s press conference by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the death toll for the Bronx outbreak has been increased to 12 people.
UPDATE 8/7/15: Latest reports are that New York City officials now saying 10 people have died in the Bronx, New York outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease, and a total of 100 cases have been diagnosed.
UPDATE 8/6/15: The toll continues to rise in the Bronx, with now 97 people reported ill from Legionnaires’ and a total of 97 people sickened from the disease. All but five have been hospitalized. And of those that have received treatment 48 have been subsequently released from the hospital (CNN). Whether those individuals will have any long-term respiratory issues is not yet known.
UPDATE 8/4/17: New York City officials are now reporting that seven people have died from the Legionnaires outbreak and 81 cases have been reported. This is a significant increase from over the weekend. City health officials have said that 17 cooling towers have been tested, and five were positive for legionella bacteria. These include Streamline Plastic Co., Lincoln Hospital, the Concourse Plaza shopping, the Opera House Hotel and a Verizon office building. All of these locations are reported to have had their water systems disinfected, and will be tested again in the coming days to ensure they remain legionella free.
Over 44 people have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease in the south Bronx since July, including a jump from the initial 31 just in the past few weeks. As of this writing, two people have died from the disease, both over the age 50. While the source of the outbreak has yet to be identified, samples of legionella bacteria have been found a hospital’s air conditioning equipment along with a building complex that has a movie theater. ABC News is reporting that two building cooling systems in the Bronx have tested positive with legionella to this point: the Concourse Plaza located on 161st Street, and the cooling tower outside at Lincoln Medical Center, located at 234 E 149th St.
According to multiple news reports, New York City health officials have said that as of August 4th, 17 cooling towers have been tested, and five were positive for legionella bacteria. These locations include Streamline Plastic Co., Lincoln Hospital and Medical Center, the Concourse Plaza shopping center, the Opera House Hotel and a Verizon office building.
If you work at or have recently visited one of these locations and have been experiencing flu-like symptoms, it is important to see a doctor immediately. You will also want to speak to an experienced Legionnaires’ disease attorney, as you may be entitled to compensation (free consultation, and no fees unless a settlement is recovered on your behalf).
The cases have been focused in the following South Bronx neighborhoods: Morrisania, High Bridge, Mott Haven and Hunts Point. However cases have been reported in Hunts Point, Longwood, Crotona Park, Claremont Village, Concourse Village, Woodstock, Highbridge, Concourse and Mount Eden.
“The New York City water supply does not pose a risk, so people should continue to feel confident in drinking tap water to stay cool during this period of hot weather,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, New York City health department commissioner.
Disclosing Information to the Public
With this recent Legionaries’ disease outbreak in the Bronx, New York area, and the massive press attention from large news outlets like CNN, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal focused on several cases there is hope that the local authorities will be honest with the public about the sources of legionella, both in terms of what they have found and what they have tested and ruled out. This is always a balancing act by the authorities in deciding what information should be made public. With local councilmen claiming that they have had not been briefed on the outbreak, either the NYC Department of Health has either kept their findings close, or simply have not performed a preliminary investigation. This has been the subject of previous posts here, and something that local authorities generally are not prepared to handle.
Did Local Authorities Act Quickly Enough in Investigating the Source of the Legionnaires’ Outbreak?
One significant fact that can be concluded from the articles is that the local authorities did not perform any serious investigation on the previous exposure that resulted in a death. In fact, DNAinfo has a story about a case that the city did not investigate, and possibly could have tested and treated before the Bronx outbreak: The family of 52-year-old Bronx music teacher, James Rouse, believes the city officials failed to investigate his death, which could possibly have prevented the deadly outbreak that has now killed 12 people and sickened over 100 people in the past months.
The initial step in any investigation is to use the CDC’s Legionellosis Hypothesis – Generating Questionnaire (PDFs can be downloaded from the CDC here). This method is highly important and assures that the victim’s activity and travel is precisely reviewed to determine common locations of probable exposures. Questions like hotel visits, hospital stays, or convention attendance within the last ten days, are significant facts to obtain in organizing the investigation and creating a report.
Some authorities may suggest that they are performing the investigation and that these processes take time. That is true, but there are numerous examples of authorities that perform investigations and create “interim reports” that provide timely findings of their investigation. In Nevada the Southern Nevada Health District routinely creates such an interim report: an example is attached here.
In the Bronx, NY cases, had the exposure of over 40 people (and death of two people) been properly investigated, then there should certainly be some report or preliminary finding of their investigation. An unfortunate victim suffered and died weeks ago, and within a sufficient time for the health department to provide some preliminary conclusions on possible sources, or to rule out possible sources. One contact explained that she was directed to test her own water at her home, but then told that she had to get special permission from the government. Without true and accurate information provided to the public, the fear of exposure to legionella could cause potential hysteria with those in the general area, but with limited or no exposure potential.
If you or a loved on has become sick from the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York (the Bronx, etc..), you may be entitled to significant compensation. Don’t wait! Contact me today for a free consultation.
Don’t hire a Legionnaires’ attorney without reading this first? 24 things you need to know BEFORE hiring a lawyer in a Legionnaires’ case.