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Nationally prominent Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions for his clients. If you or a family member were sickened because of the contaminated Sugar Hill Project cooling tower, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Please give Elliot a call at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation, or complete the following:
For the second time this year, New York City health officials have identified a Sugar Hill Project cooling tower as the source for a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in upper Manhattan. This time, 32 people have been sickened, and one of them has died.
The Harlem high-rise also was the source for an outbreak during the summer months in which 27 people were ill, and one died.
NYC officials confirmed this is the first time that a single cooling tower has been linked to two separate Legionnaires’ disease incidents in the city.
“Sampling conducted at the start of the investigation revealed that Legionella bacteria had returned quickly despite a comprehensive remediation, suggesting that there was potentially something unique in this cooling tower system.,” said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, acting health commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).
Sugar Hill Project cooling tower: shut down
Building officials turned off the cooling system on Oct. 18, and the DOHMH said it will remain out of commission until “management demonstrates that it has remediated it and can operate the tower safely.”
Once the cooling system has been tested and cleared for reinstatement, building management will be required to provide weekly samples to the city.
Sugar Hill Project cooling tower: 2015 opening
Sugar Hill Project is a 13-story, 191,500-square-foot, mixed-use development located in Manhattan’s historic Sugar Hill district of Harlem. It has been open since 2015.
The building – located at 898 St. Nicholas Avenue (St. Nicholas and West 155th Street) – has 124 affordable-housing units for low-income families, including 25 for the formerly homeless. It also features the 17,600-square foot Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, as well as an 11,600-square-foot, early-childhood education center.
If you live in the building, or work nearby, or even merely travel by it, and you are experiencing flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing), you should see your health-care provider out of an abundance of caution.
Sugar Hill Project cooling tower: design flaw?
City officials said they will investigate the design of the Sugar Hill Project cooling tower. They then will convene a panel of water-system engineers to advise building owners on designing safer cooling towers, as well as introduce stricter regulations, due to the anomaly of the second outbreak.
New York City Council member Mark Levine, who is chairperson of the Council’s Committee on Health, said the DOHMH needs to do more to prevent “repeat contamination.”
“From the moment we learned of a second Legionnaires cluster at the same location in upper Manhattan, I began asking pressing questions: Are there defects in cooling-tower equipment which make them vulnerable to repeat contamination?” Levine said in a statement. “How long does intense monitoring last after a tower is found to be contaminated once?
“Five weeks — and one oversight hearing — after lower Washington Heights was hit with a second deadly cluster, we still don’t have adequate answers to these questions. DOHMH needs to move immediately to put in place better protocols to prevent this kind of repeat contamination.”
Sugar Hill Project cooling tower: diagnosis difficult
Because Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are similar to symptoms of pneumonia (lung infection) and influenza (flu), many cases go unreported. Because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms, only about 5,000 of the estimated 25,000 annual cases in the United States are reported, according to statistics kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In addition, approximately 10 percent of people infected with Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) will die from the infection.
Sugar Hill Project cooling tower: disease symptoms
Legionnaires’ disease generally begins with the following symptoms:
- severe headaches
- muscle aches
- fever (104 degrees or higher) and chills
- no appetite.
However, symptoms can worsen after a few days to include:
- pleuritic chest pain (pain caused by inflamed lungs)
- shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- cough, which can produce mucus or blood
- gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc.)
- mental agitation and confusion.
Sugar Hill Project cooling tower: more on Legionnaires
Legionnaires’ disease is also known as legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia. The disease is treatable with antibiotics if caught early enough, but if not diagnosed early, it can lead to severe complications.
Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria grow best in warm water and are found primarily in human-made environments.
Outbreaks and clusters have been linked to numerous sources, including:
- cooling towers of large air conditioning systems
- water systems like those in large buildings, hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
- large plumbing systems
- hot-water tanks and heaters
- showers and faucets
- mist machines like those in the produce sections of grocery stores
- hand-held sprayers
- swimming pools, whirlpools, hot tubs
- physical-therapy equipment
- decorative fountains.
People in high-risk categories
Anyone can contract Legionella, but people most susceptible to infection include:
- anyone 50 years old or older
- smokers, both current and former
- anyone with a chronic lung disease or COPD (bronchitis or emphysema)
- heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages
- anyone with a compromised immune system
- organ-transplant recipients
- anyone on a specific drug protocol (corticosteroids, etc.).