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Legionnaires' Disease Bacteria Found at Harlem NYPD Precinct, Officials Say

 A police officer reportedly fell ill and was hospitalized due to exposure to the deadly bacteria.
A police officer reportedly fell ill and was hospitalized due to exposure to the deadly bacteria.
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EAST HARLEM— A police officer was hospitalized after health officials found traces of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease in the water at an NYPD precinct in East Harlem, according to police and a report.

The NYPD was informed Friday by the its facilities management division that traces of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, were found in water at the 23rd Precinct stationhouse, at 162 E. 102nd St., between Lexington and Third avenues, an NYPD spokesman said.

The case emerged when an officer, whose name was not released, fell ill and was hospitalized after being diagnosed with the disease, according to The New York Times.

Preliminary results came from tests conducted at the precinct by an independent contractor hired by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, police said.

Officials did not disclose when the officer became ill, but the city Department of Health is currently searching for the source of the contamination, the Times reported.

The NYPD is also reviewing the results, the spokesman said.

Symptoms of the Legionnaires' disease include issues similar to the flu, such as headache, fever and coughing, as well as fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea, according to the health department’s website.

Symptoms appear two to 10 days after “significant exposure” to Legionella bacteria, the agency said.

The city receives an average of 200 to 400 reports of the disease a year, according to health officials.

This is the latest case of Legionnaires' disease in the neighborhood after two cases were found at a Harlem apartment complex last year.

The largest outbreak happened in 2015 in the South Bronx, killing 12 people and sickening more than 120. The Bronx outbreak was traced to 15 cooling towers, prompting new legislation from the city

Cases of the disease can be traced to plumbing systems that foster Legionella growth, such as cooling towers and components of large air-conditioning systems, according to the health department’s site.

Police said the stationhouse’s cooling tower has been shut down since October 2016 due to an ongoing renovation project. A new tower was installed last month, but has not been activated, an NYPD spokesman said.

As a precaution, officials temporarily shut off the station's hot water supply to conduct additional testing, the spokesman added.

Health officials said it is still safe to work in the precinct, but told officers to avoid taking showers there not to prepare hot food and beverages, and only use cold water for drinking, The New York Times reported.

“There is no public health risk to the larger community,” the health department told the paper.

A representative from the health department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.