New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed seven New Yorkers has triggered an effort to mandate citywide inspections and cleaning of air conditioning cooling towers, Reuters reported.
Since July 10, the disease has sickened 86 people in the South Bronx, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States, the mayor said at a news conference Tuesday with Mary Bassett, the city’s health commissioner.
The number could climb higher, since the last disinfection of cooling towers tied to the outbreak took place on Monday, and the incubation period for Legionnaires’ disease is 10 days.
But officials said the outbreak has peaked and that they’ve seen a reduction in the rate of its growth.
The disease, a severe kind of pneumonia, is contracted by breathing in mist from cooling towers infected with the bacteria Legionella.
Of the 17 cooling towers, all in the South Bronx, that city health officials have inspected for Legionella, five tested positive. Remediation has been completed.
De Blasio said he would propose legislation this week to prevent future outbreaks, including regular inspections of cooling towers, new recommendations for an immediate response to an outbreak, and sanctions for failing to comply with new standards.
All the people who died of the disease were older adults with underlying medical problems.
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