EAST BRONX — A state-owned psychiatric center is the likely source of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that occurred in the East Bronx earlier this fall, city health officials said.
The New York City Health Department announced that a cooling tower at the Bronx Psychiatric Center, located at 1500 Waters Pl., was the likely source of the outbreak, as the strain of Legionella in the tower matched samples from four patients.
The center fully cooperated with all agencies that were involved with the investigation and has cleaned and disinfected its tower, according to the Health Department. It is also working with the department on a long-term maintenance plan.
The tower had been inspected and disinfected on Aug. 5, and an Aug. 17 test showed no signs of Legionella, the health department said.
The building is owned by the state's Office of Mental Health, and spokesman Benjamin Rosen said in a statement that the agency had implemented an "aggressive" maintenance and monitoring plan to ensure the safety of the neighborhood, its patients and its employees.
"This rigorous process consists of inspection, testing, and disinfection activities as well as ongoing maintenance of the tower, which has now been drained and taken offline for the winter," he said.
The East Bronx outbreak killed one person and sickened 15, but no new cases related to it occurred after Sept. 28, according to the health department.
It arrived on the heels of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the South Bronx over the summer that killed 12 people and sickened more than 120, making it the worst outbreak of the illness in New York City history.
"We continue to remain vigilant for any signs of Legionella in the Bronx and across the city," Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. "We know that because Legionella exists in the environment we will continue to see sporadic cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the city, but the disease is curable with common antibiotics.”