Elliot Olsen is one of the few attorneys in the country who can call himself a “Legionnaires lawyer.” If you or a family member were sickened in this Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak, you might have cause to file a Legionnaires lawsuit. Please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
NYC Health officials informed residents of Tracey Towers in the Bronx that two more tenants were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, doubling the number of cases there to four in the past year.
All four of the sickened tenants are residents of 20 West Mosholu Parkway North. No cases have been reported by residents of the adjacent tower, at 40 West Mosholu Parkway South.
Tracey Towers is among the tallest buildings in the Bronx, at 38 and 41 stories. It is the second-largest cooperative housing development in the Bronx, behind Co-Op City, which is the largest of its kind in the world. (Co-Op City dealt with a Legionnaires outbreak in 2018 in which one resident was killed and two others sickened.)
Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak: Precautions taken
Jean Hill, president of the Tracey Towers Tenants Association, said shower heads were being changed as a precaution at 20 West Mosholu, and the same will occur at 40 West Mosholu.
“People were concerned last week,” Hill told the Norwood News, a local, bi-weekly newspaper. “Now, they’re angry,”
The source of the Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, has not been discovered. Testing of the apartment complex’s water is being conducted, and the four people who have been sickened are being interviewed to try to pinpoint where they have been, on or off the property.
Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak: Warning to residents
Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (vapor or mist). Because of that, Ricky Wong – the executive director of community affairs for NYC Health (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) – reminded tenants that even fast-running water in a sink can create vapor.
NYC Health suggested the following preventative measures:
- Don’t shower; take a bath. Fill the tub slowly, and minimize time in the bathroom while the water is running.
- Wash dishes but fill the sink slowly. This will help avoid creating a mist.
- Drink cold water from the tap. Also, start with cold water when heating water for cooking, or making coffee or tea.
- Wash hands. But do not wear a mask – it’s unnecessary.
Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak: High-risk groups
The majority of those exposed to Legionella don’t get sick, but anyone 50 or older – especially people who smoke or have a chronic lung condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD, most commonly emphysema or bronchitis) – have a higher risk.
Other people more susceptible to infection include:
- anyone with a compromised immune system
- organ-transplant recipients
- anyone on a specific drug protocol, such as corticosteroids
After Legionnaires’ disease is diagnosed, hospitalization is almost always required. In extreme cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death – about 10 percent of those infected will die.
Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak: Symptoms? Pay heed
If you live in Tracey Towers, work there, or even have simply been a visitor and you are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.
Initial symptoms, which usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella, include:
- severe headaches
- muscle aches
- fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, and chills.
Symptoms then can worsen and include:
- coughing, which can produce mucus or blood
- dyspnea (shortness of breath)
- chest pains (pleurisy or pleuritis)
- gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting)
- confusion and other mental changes.
Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak: Familiar for Bronx
The Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak is the latest to affect the Bronx:
- In February, NYC Health confirmed two cases at the Bronx River Houses, which occurred within the previous 12 months.
- Last September, two residents were sickened at Fort Independence Houses in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood.
- In October 2017, five residents of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale were diagnosed with the disease.
Additionally, in the summer of 2018, Legionella bacteria were found in the water supply of the borough’s Jacobi Medical Center, but no illnesses were reported.
Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak: An NYC problem
New York City records up to 500 cases of Legionnaires’ disease illnesses each year, and the state of New York leads the country annually in number of cases. In 2017, there were a state-record 1,009 cases – a record that was projected to be broken in 2018. (Final totals for 2018 have not been released, but by Sept. 27 of last year, 875 cases had been confirmed, and 1,180 were projected by the end of the year.)
Cooling towers have been frequent culprits in NYC Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, including the largest outbreak in city history, when 12 people died and more than 120 others were sickened in 2015 in the south Bronx. Tracey Towers, however, does not have cooling towers, which is why the water system is the primary suspect.
Tracey Towers Legionnaires outbreak: Little oversight
Hospitals and nursing homes are required to provide stringent oversight of building water systems and medical equipment that could expose patients to harmful Legionella, but there is little regulatory oversight of apartments, hotels, and other non-medical buildings.
“There’s not a lot of people checking up on a hotel, a condominium or a large building,” said Elliot Olsen, who has filed numerous Legionnaires lawsuits on behalf of patients and their families. “I am not aware of any oversight really at any level.”
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Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people injured by Legionnaires’ disease. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: