Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza
The City Health Department indicated that it is working with building management to test the edifice’s water supply.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been discovered in Lindenwood, the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene confirmed to The Forum on Tuesday.
“While the risk of infection to tenants is very low, as part of the routine protocol to assess potential sources of Legionnaires’ disease, the Health Department is working with the building management to test the building’s water supply,” said DOHMH spokesman Julien Martinez. “Legionella bacteria are typically found in water systems, including indoor plumbing. Legionnaires’ disease – a type of pneumonia – is not contagious and is easily treatable with antibiotics. People only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria. Adults with flu-like symptoms, fever, cough, or difficulty breathing should seek immediate medical attention.”
The cases were diagnosed 10 months apart, and both patients have been hospitalized and discharged. The Health Department on Tuesday began to distribute fliers and went door to door to notify residents of 84-10 and 84-20 153rd Avenue, the Dover and the Cumberland, respectively, which share a boiler or water-distribution system. And on Wednesday evening, building management, the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic, and DOHMH officials were set to host a tenant meeting to brief residents about the investigation.
The department noted that while it is in the process of testing the water tenants can still use and drink water – but tenants at higher risk of getting Legionnaires’ disease should take additional precautions.
Higher-risk groups include those aged 50 or older (especially smokers); people with chronic lung disease (emphysema, COPD); and those with compromised immune systems (post-transplant operation, chemotherapy). People in these groups should take the following precautions:
• Don’t take a shower, since it could create water vapor (mist). Instead, take a bath, but fill the tub slowly. Try to minimize your time in the bathroom while the tub is filling.
• It’s fine to wash dishes, but fill the sink slowly to avoid creating mist.
• It’s fine to drink cold water from the tap, but start with cold water when heating water for tea, coffee, or cooking.
• You do not need to wear a mask.
• It is important to continue to wash your hands.
Last week, DOHMH announced that it was probing two Legionnaires’ cases at a building in Rego Park. An average of 200-400 new cases are reported in the city every year.