Update on Legionnaires' at 23 Precinct from OLR

The DEA received this Fact Sheet from the Office of Labor Relations as an update on the situation regarding Legionnaires’ disease at the 23rd Precinct. Please make sure members and others who might have to stop by that building are aware of this situation.

 

FACT SHEET ON LEGIONELLA AT 23RD PRECINCT

JUNE 27, 2017

 

Overview

Following a report of a case of Legionnaires’ disease involving a police officer at the 23rd Precinct in early June, the Health Department has been working closely with the NYPD on an investigation and response at the precinct.

On June 20, the Department learned that a person who works at the precinct had developed Pontiac fever, a mild syndrome caused by Legionella, at around the same time that an officer from the same precinct was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease. Both officers are doing well.

As part of our ongoing investigation, the Department sampled water outlets at the precinct to look for strains of Legionella bacteria that most commonly make people sick. Our culture tests have come back negative for these bacteria.

Nevertheless, because the NYPD had taken steps to treat its water system, the Health Department is now conducting additional rounds of tests to confirm the efficacy of this treatment.

There have been no new cases identified since this treatment took place.

 

Cases

The Health Department has detected two (2) cases of Legionella bacteria associated disease in workers at the 23rd Precinct building - 162 E. 102nd St, New York, NY 10029.

The two cases involved one officer diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and another officer diagnosed with Pontiac fever – which is a mild illness caused by legionella bacteria. We are not aware of any other cases at this time.

The Department learned about the first case on June 9.

The Department received a laboratory report of the second case on June 19, made contact with this individual the next day (June 20), and found out during an interview that the patient worked at the 23rd Precinct.

The two officers are doing well.

 

Health Department’s Response

Following reports of the first case on June 9, the Health Department and the NYPD have been working together and discussing remediation steps.

A new cooling tower in this building had not been turned on yet for the summer season when these two cases took place.

With the cooling tower ruled out as a source of infection, the Health Department has focused on testing the water supply for Legionella bacteria.

On Saturday June 10, the Health Department took water and swab samples from water fixtures, including faucets and shower heads.

These samples were sent to the City’s Public Health Lab on Sunday June 11 to detect the specific species of legionella that can make some people sick, called Legionella pneumophila (LP).

Bacterial culture is the gold standard for detecting legionella and it takes up to two weeks.

Final culture test results came back on June 26 and were negative. Nevertheless, two cases associated with one facility prompts an ongoing investigation.

 

Remediation Steps

Ahead of results, the NYPD took the steps to treat its water system that the Health Department would have recommended if the test results were confirmed, including changing showerheads.

As is routine, the Health Department is now conducting additional rounds of tests to confirm the efficacy of this treatment.

There have been no new cases identified since this treatment took place.

 

Current Recommendation for Officers

The Health Department recommends that officers aged 50 or older, especially cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease, or people with weakened immune systems not take showers in the building until the investigation is complete.

The building is open and the water is safe to drink.

 

Community Outreach

The Department has conducted extensive testing of the water system, and has kept NYPD and the PBA informed.

The Department has held three informational sessions for officers at the 23rd Precinct, and continues to be available for questions and guidance.

Health Department officials continue to be available for public consultation and guidance.

 

Public Health Information and Advice

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia. It is caused by a bacteria that grows in warm water, and occurs more often in summer months. There are many varieties (species). Legionella pneumophila is the species that most often causes human disease.

People only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria.

Legionnaires’ disease is not transmitted from person to person. Groups at highest risk for developing this type of pneumonia include people who are aged 50 or older -- especially cigarette smokers -- people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs).

Symptoms resemble other types of pneumonia and can include fever, chills, cough, and muscle aches. People living and or working in the area who are experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention with a primary care provider or seek urgent care.

Legionnaires’ disease is treated with antibiotics. Early treatment results in the best outcomes. Most people get better although they may need to be hospitalized. In rare cases, people may get very sick or even die from complications of the disease.

Nationwide the number of reported cases of Legionnaires‘ disease is increasing. The CDC reports a more than fourfold increase in reported cases since 2000.

 

NYC’s New Cooling Tower Legislation

In August 2015, Mayor de Blasio signed Local Law 77, and last spring the Health Department promulgated the strictest regulations for cooling tower oversight in the nation. The new requirements allow the City to quickly identify and remediate problematic towers, which are potential sources of Legionnaires’ disease.

Every year, there are between 200 and 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the city.

 

Number of Legionnaires’ Cases by Year

2012: 177

2013: 301

2014: 225

2015: 428 (including 138 from South Bronx Outbreak)

2016: 269