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Attorney Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ at one of these NYCHA developments, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation, or complete the following:

The city of New York continues to fight a losing battle against Legionnaires’ disease as two separate incidents were confirmed in two NYCHA developments – in Harlem and the Bronx.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia (lung infection) that, when diagnosed early, is treatable with antibiotics. It is contracted by the inhalation of Legionella bacteria; it cannot be passed from person to person.

Two NYCHA developments hit with Legionnaires' disease

Multiple Legionnaires’ disease illnesses were confirmed at two NYCHA developments – in Harlem and the Bronx, NYC health officials announced. (Pictured: Saint Nicholas Houses in Harlem)

NYCHA developments: 3 ill in Harlem outbreak

The New York City Housing Authority confirmed that three people contracted Legionnaires’ disease at Saint Nicholas Houses in Manhattan. All three victims were hospitalized but have been released. No other information was released.

Officials for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) said elevated levels of Legionella were found in six of 13 water tanks tested at the public housing project. Testing was performed by the NYCHA about two weeks ago.

Remediation efforts have been performed, including the draining and cleaning of the tanks.

Saint Nicholas Houses is located between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in central Harlem. The development spans a superblock from 127th Street to 131st Street, and consists of 13 buildings, all 14 stories, and 1,523 apartment units.

Two NYCHA developments hit with Legionnaires' disease

Multiple Legionnaires’ disease illnesses were confirmed at two NYCHA developments – in Harlem and the Bronx, NYC health officials announced. (Pictured: Fort Independence Houses in the Bronx)

NYCHA developments: 2 ill in Bronx cluster

Two people were sickened at Fort Independence Houses in the Bronx. One case occurred recently; the other was diagnosed within the past year.

Health officials said they would investigate Fort Independence’s plumbing for the existence of Legionella.

Fort Independence is a 21-story development with 346 units. It is located at 3340 Bailey Avenue in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood.

NYCHA developments: beware

If you live, work or travel through the vicinity of the two developments, you should be overly cautious. If you are feeling ill, it is recommended that you see your doctor immediately.

Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are similar to those of other types of pneumonia and can even resemble those of flu. Symptoms include:

  • coughing
  • shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • high fever
  • muscle pains
  • severe headaches
  • gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc.).

NYCHA developments: outbreak vs. cluster

Outbreaks and clusters occur when there are multiple cases reported in or around the same area and within a designated period.

The Saint Nicholas incident is an “outbreak” because the illnesses were reported within days or weeks, rather than months, and occurred in a more limited geographic area.

The Fort Independence incident is a “cluster” because the illnesses occurred in the same area but within a longer period of time, three months to a year.

NYCHA developments: more NYC woes

It has been a busy summer for Legionnaires’ disease in New York City. To wit:

  • In August, a cooling tower at the Sugar Hill Project in Harlem was the culprit in an outbreak that infected 27 people, including one who died, in Washington Heights and Hamilton Heights.
  • Also in August, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) confirmed that two employees, working out of different locations, were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease.
  • In late July, two cases were confirmed at Clinton Manor, a property for Section 8 tenants in Hell’s Kitchen.

NYCHA developments: Legionnaires’ FAQs

How is it contracted?
Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (vapor or mist). The bacteria grow best in warm water and are found primarily in human-made environments.

Who can get sick?
Most people exposed to Legionella do not become ill, but people 50 or older – especially those who smoke and have chronic lung conditions – are at a higher risk.

Others more susceptible to infection include:

  • heavy drinkers of alcohol
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • recipients of organ transplants
  • anyone on a specific drug protocol (corticosteroids, for instance).

How prevalent is it?
An estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) happen annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

In addition, 10 percent of patients infected with Legionnaires’ disease will die from the infection.

Where does it come from?
Outbreaks and clusters have been linked to numerous sources, including:

  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • large plumbing systems and water systems (hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, etc.)
  • hot-water heaters and tanks
  • bathroom showers and faucets
  • swimming pools, whirlpools, and hot tubs
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • mist machines, like those used in the produce sections of grocery stores
  • hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.