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2 Cases of Legionnaires' Disease Found in Harlem Apartment Complex

By Dartunorro Clark | July 31, 2016 12:23pm
 The Health Department is investigating two cases of Legionnaires' disease in Harlem.
The Health Department is investigating two cases of Legionnaires' disease in Harlem.
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Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock

HARLEM — The city’s Department of Health is investigating two cases of Legionnaires' disease at a West Harlem apartment complex, officials said Friday.

The cases of the waterborne illness emerged in the past 10 months at Savoy Park, at 2300 Fifth Ave., health department spokesman Christopher Miller told DNAinfo New York.

This is the first acknowledgement of an investigation involving the disease since an outbreak last summer in the South Bronx, which killed 12 people and sickened more than 120.

The city receives an average of 200 to 400 reports of the disease a year, officials said. The CDC estimates there have been at least 110 reported cases in the city so far in 2016

 Letters residents received from Savoy Park regarding the two cases of Legionnaires' disease.
Letters residents received from Savoy Park regarding the two cases of Legionnaires' disease.
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Derrick Owens

Health department officials said the two cases are not considered to be a part of an outbreak and have yet to find the source.

“While the risk of infection to tenants is very low, as part of routine protocol to assess potential sources of Legionella, the department is working with the building management to test the building’s water supply,” Miller said. 

“Residents of this building have been notified of the investigation and given relevant information about the disease and next steps.”

The Bronx outbreak was traced to 15 cooling towers, which prompted new legislation from the city. Officials said the West Harlem building does not have cooling towers.

Residents said the management company, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, hired an environmental company to sanitize the building's water towers.

But some are still worried. 

“When other tenants first talked about it, my eyes raised like ‘what?” said tenant Derrick Owens. “I’m a little concerned.”

Officials said water testing would be done at the building. Residents were notified in letters on July 26 and July 29 from the building’s management company regarding how the health department is addressing the two cases.

The health department has also met with residents to address their concerns. 

Tenants can still use and drink water but tenants with compromised immune systems should follow the precautions below, officials said.

► Don’t take a shower, even a cool shower, since it could create water 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.