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No Legionnaires Bacteria Found at Forest Hills Tower Where Disease Killed 1

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | October 12, 2017 3:56pm
 Legionnaires' disease killed one person and infected another in the Parker Tower complex.
Legionnaires' disease killed one person and infected another in the Parker Tower complex.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — After a series of tests at a Forest Hill tower where Legionnaires' disease killed one person and infected another, the Department of Health said Thursday it found no traces of the bacteria in the building’s water system.

On Sept. 20, the agency said that two people who resided at 104-60 Queens Blvd., which belongs to the Parker Towers complex, contracted the disease over a two-month period.

“One person recovered, and one elderly person with health conditions died,” the agency said at the time.

In a notice to tenants dated Oct. 11, the agency said test results showed no evidence of Legionella bacteria in the building's water system and that it was safe to use the building's water.

Previously, tenants were advised that they could still use and drink water, but that those 50 and older or with weakened immune systems should take extra precautions, such as taking baths instead of showers to avoid water vapor.

The disease is not contagious, and people can only get sick by breathing in water vapor containing the bacteria, the agency said.

“Water samples taken by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to test for legionella ... came back negative,” Parker Towers management wrote in a statement. “Two suspected cases of legionella were reported at 104-60 Queens Blvd. in late September, which led to a response by DOHMH which conducted random testing from 60 apartments, resulting in 82 samples that were sent to a lab for analysis.”

The disease, which is a type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria, causes flu-like symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing, but it's easily treatable with antibiotics, officials said.

The bacteria is typically found in water systems, but it’s fairly ubiquitous and difficult to determine the exact source, the Health Department said.

Each year, the city receives an average of 200 to 400 reports of the disease, and officials notify tenants when there are two or more cases reported at the same address over a one-year period. 

In August, the city also investigated the water at a Rego Park building after two residents became sick with Legionnaires' disease. Test results showed no Legionella bacteria at that location either, the agency said Thursday.