The recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in New York City is the first of such degree in the United States in years. USA Today reported Monday that there have been 12 deaths and over 100 cases total in the area.
It is an uncommon disease, but it is a dangerous one. A form of bacterial pneumonia, Legionnaires’ is spread through mist and water vapor. Cooling towers, plumbing systems, decorative fountains, and hot tubs are all possible points-of-contact.
According to USA Today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Monday that 39 buildings in the area that have seen infections have such cooling towers, and 12 tested positive for the bacteria. The Huffington Post reported Tuesday that the number of towers found contaminated had rose to 18.
“We are dealing with a new set of realities we have never experienced that we have never encountered before in this city,” de Blasio said when talking with the media.
While the city is busy implementing new regulations and safety protocol to avoid any future outbreaks, people outside of the city should takes steps to protect themselves as well. Regular testing of water systems should be done, since the disease can be contracted simply by taking a shower in contaminated water.
People who own hot tubs need to be especially aware. The hot water and vapor associated with them make for the perfect breeding ground. While many people use chlorine to clean their hot tub, Ozone (O3) is 3,000 times more effective, and leaves no waste behind.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 5% and 30% cases of Legionnaires’ are fatal. While it is curable, the symptoms are severe flu-like and extremely unpleasant. It is worth putting the time and effort into prevention.