New York - Legionella Prevention and Costs of Legionnaires Outbreaks

New York Historical Headlines Related to Legionella

November 29, 2023

Hotel shower heads are a potential home to Legionella bacteria. While experts have urged homeowners to change their shower heads annually, hotels may not hold themselves to such a standard. NYU’s Tierno said running hot water for a minute before taking a shower can make some of the bacteria drop out before you go under a shower head. (Source)

October 25, 2023

Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) is advising the community of Legionellosis an case increases. Legionellosis is caused by exposure to the bacteria Legionella, and is a term used to describe multiple diseases, including Legionnaire’s Disease, Pontiac Fever and Extrapulmonary Legionellosis. Twelve (12) cases have been identified in the City and Town of Ithaca since June 2023, and one death has been reported as of August 2023. Symptoms of Legionellosis can include cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches, and headaches. This bacterial disease may cause pneumonia if left untreated. People most at risk are those with a weakened immune system, current or former smokers, those with a chronic lung disease (like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or emphysema), or those over 50 years of age. (Source)

August 24, 2023

A Cattaraugus County resident was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, which likely resulted from a flooded basement. The man has since recovered. Legionnaires’ disease first came to the attention of health officials in 1976 when the disease sickened 221 people and killed 34 attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. The cause was traced to the water system of the hotel the 2,000 Legionnaires stayed in during the convention. Subsequent breakouts of Legionnaires’ disease prompted the New York State Department of Health to issue regulations governing the operation, maintenance and testing of cooling towers, which were targeted as a major cause of the disease. From 2018 to 2022, New York had 4,946 cases of Legionnaires’ disease. In 2020, New York reported more cases than any other state. (Source)

May 5, 2023

An Auburn Community Hospital will lift its water quality protocol after receiving "favorable test results" after concerns oft higher levels of legionella in its water system. The hospital implemented the water quality protocol after initial tests found elevated levels of legionella. The higher levels of legionella were limited to the hospital's water system. More samples were collected and sent to state-approved labs for further testing. While awaiting the results, the hospital notified patients and staff of the problem and provided bottled water. The water systems were flushed and showers were not allowed until filters were installed. (Source)

April 2, 2023

Precautions are being taken at Auburn Community Hospital in regards to its water after Legionella testing showed unexpected abnormalities. The routine test was done on Friday, March 17. After the results came back, the hospital took more samples and those are being tested now at two different labs. The results could take a week or up to 10 days to come back. Regulations with the New York State Health Department require hospitals and residential healthcare facilities to do this testing. The hospital says as of March 22, no patients have been impacted and it will continue with this protocol until it receives new test results. (Source)

March 29, 2023

Legislation was introduced to New York State, A804, that would allocate $50,000,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated to the New York City department of health and mental hygiene and the department of environmental protection, respectively, for the purpose of enforcing all laws, rules and regulations designed to combat legionnaires' disease. The legislation details that such funds shall be drawn from the local assistance account. (Source)

March 8, 2023

An Erie nursing home was notified by the Erie County Department of Health that one of its former residents had tested positive for Legionnaires' disease while at a hospital. Independence Healthcare Management said in a statement that the origins of the transmission remain unknown. Regardless, the facility has implemented mitigating precautions and protocols in conjunction with the County Health Department and water management consultants. "Our water management consultants were onsite within 24 hours to obtain facility-wide water samples as per our comprehensive water management plan. Until we have those results, we will continue to follow the proactive mitigation measures under the guidance of our local health department and our outside consultants." (Source)

February 1, 2023

In a recent Legionnaire's outbreak, a hot tub’s water tested positive for legionella bacteria in late October of 2022 — more than five months after the first illness was reported. Test results were only disclosed to the DC government on Nov. 15, after a second user was hospitalized. The Wellness Suite itself was closed on Oct. 20, with management citing “a report of an illness by one of our residents” in a cryptic mass email — an apparent reference to the second hospitalization. Four days later, the Crossing tenants association blasted out another mass email, saying it had learned “an individual was hospitalized due to a confirmed case of Legionnaires Disease” and “Doctors suspect [the] Crossing sauna and spa as the likely source of the infection” and asked that management “close the spa immediately for testing and cleaning and notify other users.” (Source)

December 7, 2022

The New York State Health Department continues to actively investigate a single case of Legionellosis at Eger Health Care and Rehabilitation Center that was discovered in October. Following initial testing that discovered elevated levels of Legionella bacteria, the facilities went under a period of active clinical surveillance that dictated residents with pneumonia symptoms be tested for Legionella. Asymptomatic residents are not screened, the state Health Department said. (Source)

November 30, 2022

Five people died of Legionnaires' disease over the summer in New York City at a nursing home that had been cited repeatedly for improper maintenance of the cooling towers. Cooling towers are prime locations where Legionella bacteria can spread. The 409-bed facility's outbreak was the city's worst since 2015. That incident involved a cooling tower that was blamed for an infection that caused 16 deaths. Following the 2015 outbreak, New York City passed strict rules for maintaining cooling towers that include requiring building managers to register the towers with the city and submitting to regular testing. A review by the Times found that the Amsterdam Nursing Home was cited seven times in the past six years for rules violations ranging from not conducting routine maintenance to using inadequate start-up procedures for the towers. One infraction resulted in a $500 fine while the other six were dismissed after hearings. (Source)

November 30, 2022

The New York State Health Department continues to actively investigate a single case of Legionellosis at Eger Health Care and Rehabilitation Center that was discovered in October. The water systems at the facilities were flushed as thermal disinfection protocols were initiated, and thermal equipment was installed for constant use. As an added barrier, chemical disinfection equipment was installed in both locations. (Source)

November 18, 2022

At Eger Health Care and Rehabilitation Center in Egbertville, one person tested positive for Legionellosis. Water tests at the facility found high levels of the bacterium. The building water systems at the assisted living facility and the nursing home both tested positive for Legionella. State Health Department regulations indicate that facilities must perform Legionella culture samples quarterly and report the results to the agency if sampling results exceed 30% positive tests. (Source)

November 9, 2022

Due to the questions in regards to the subcontractor’s reliability, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is now going back and retesting 33 buildings at St. Nicholas and the 10 other developments where LiquiTech has been using EMT lab results to certify that the copper-silver ionization systems at those sites were working properly. (Source)

October 20, 2022

The deaths of five residents of a nursing home in Manhattan is possibly linked to Legionnaires' disease. Officials have been investigating a Legionnaires outbreak at the Amsterdam Nursing Home in Morningside Heights. Four of the people who died are believed to have contracted the disease or were exposed to legionella bacteria. The fifth death remains under investigation. Some of the deaths occured prior to the discovery of Legionnaires' and the mitigation efforts began. The New York State Health Department said that all deaths under investigation were residents with multiple underlying health conditions and it is unclear if any were directly caused by the legionella bacteria. Source).

October 13, 2022

In September, the water supply at the Riis Houses in Manhattan was declared free of arsenic. The city is still discouraging residents at the public housing complex from using their taps because a test turned up potential traces of the Legionella bacteria. According to the Health Commissioner, no Legionnaires cases at the complex were discovered. Source)

October 13, 2022

The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) notified the community that a cooling tower located in the Tompkins County Mental Health Department recorded elevated levels of Legionella bacteria. Integrated Water Management (IWM), the entity contracted to manage the health department’s cooling tower, received sample results showing that the concentration of Legionella in the tower was >1,500 colony-forming units per milliliter. (Source)

October 7, 2022

Five Manhattan nursing home residents died after an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was detected at the facility. In addition, at least four of those deaths are directly linked to the disease, according to the state Department of Health. A fifth death is also being investigated and will be determined if it's connected to Legionnaires'. The DOH said that eight residents of the nursing home were confirmed to test positive for the disease between June and early September of this year. (Source)

September 26, 2022

The Riis Houses' water supply in Manhattan was declared free of arsenic — but the city still discouraged tap water usage for residents at the public housing complex. This was due to a weeks-old test that turned up potential traces of Legionella bacteria. Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said that officials had found no Legionnaires cases at the complex. (Source)

September 26, 2022

The Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) notified the community that a cooling tower located in the Tompkins County Mental Health Department showed elevated levels of a Legionella bacteria. Integrated Water Management (IWM), the entity contracted to manage the health department’s cooling tower, received sample results earlier in the month showing that the concentration of Legionella in the tower was >1,500 colony-forming units per milliliter. (Source)

September 2, 2022

A nonprofit building offers is being sued by Bronx victims of a Legionnaires’ outbreak at it's facility. The complaint alleged that the housing nonprofit was negligent in its building maintenance, causing physical, emotional, and economic losses. (Source

August 18, 2022

The nonprofit building owner is being sued by its Bronx victims of a Legionnaires’ outbreak. The complaint alleges that the housing nonprofit was negligent in its building maintenance, causing physical, emotional, and economic losses. (Source)

August 5, 2022

In May, two Bronx residents landed in the hospital for weeks after getting Legionnaires’ disease. This was during a deadly outbreak in May, in which they blame the owner of a building for not properly maintaining the water-cooling system that infected them. They claim the disease was contracted the illness from a tainted cooling tower at the Jerome Avenue Residences in Highbridge according to a Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit. (Source)

July 15, 2022

On June 17, the city’s health department announced that the the Highbridge community cluster of Legionnaires’ disease investigation has been closed. “No new cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been identified in residents of the area with symptom onset in the last four weeks,” health officials said. There were 30 cases of Legionnaires’ disease associated with the cluster. Twenty-eight people were hospitalized, 24 were discharged, and two New Yorkers died. (Source)

June 30, 2022

The Health Department announced that the Highbridge community Legionnaires’ disease cluster is over. For over four weeks, no new cases of Legionnaires’ disease were identified in residents of the area with symptom onset. This cluster of Legionnaires' consisted of 30 cases. Twenty-eight people were hospitalized, of which 24 were discharged, and two New Yorkers died. Epidemiologists matched the Legionella strain from the cooling tower with the strain fround in two patients after extensive epidemiologic investigation, sampling of area cooling towers, and molecular analysis of Legionella bacteria from human and cooling tower specimens. The Health Department sampled the cooling tower on the day the investigation began, which was May 20. The building owner was ordered to immediately disinfect and perform additional remediation. The building complied and worked with the Health Department on a long-term management program. (Source)

June 10, 2022

New York and Verizon reached an agreement to ensure that the company takes swift and comprehensive action to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease in New York state. Since 2017, there were at least 225 alleged violations of city and state laws at 45 of Verizon’s cooling tower locations throughout the state. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found the company failed to conduct testing, address positive test results, and clean and inspect the cooling towers by required deadlines. Verizon, as part of the agreement, will adopt official policies and procedures to ensure full, ongoing compliance with the law and pay a $118,000 penalty for the violations, which will be used by OAG to address the health impacts of air pollution. (Source)

June 3, 2022

Update on the Highbridge outbreak. The Legionnaires' disease outbreak claimed the life of another person, raising the death toll to two. New York City health officials stated that four cooling towers tested positive for the presence of Legionella pneumophila, the type of bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease. (Source)

May 25, 2022

One person has now died from the Bronx Legionnaires' outbreak and 19 cases have been identified by health officials. Four cooling towers, that contained Legionella pneumophila, have since been disinfected. (Source)

May 21, 2022

City health officials in New York announced an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in a Bronx neighborhood. Four people in the borough’s Highbridge neighborhood were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ diease, which is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that forms in warm water. (Source)

2021

New York City's Health Department’s dealt with a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Central Harlem in August of 2021. Nine people were diagnosed with the illness and hospitalized in the northern Manhattan area since Aug. 9, seven of whom were 50 years of age or older, the Health Department announced. (Source)

2021

In 2021, 9 people were treated For Legionnaires’ disease in central harlem. The outbreak was tied to the plumbing system.

Reported Settlements and Jury Awards

Given the incidence of legionella in New York, and its associated harm, personal injury claims and litigation are also becoming more frequent. Reported settlements and jury awards are unavailable at this time.

State Cap on Jury Awards

New York does not have a cap on the award amounts allowable by law. In addition, public health notices and negative media attention can also lead to business interruption and reputation damage.

Groundwater Temperature Risk Level – Medium

Overall Liabliity and Risk for New York – High

No, ASHRAE 188 is not part of the state code

Legionella and Water Management Plan Assistance

Need help? For Legionella consulting and services, Water Management Plans, Legionella Control Systems, and Legionella testing please contact us at Legionella Control Systems at 888-416-8626 or info@legionellacontrolsystems.com

Nancrede Engineering Co., Inc. BBB Business Review