THE BRONX - Authorities announced Friday that state health teams will be sent to the city to help test cooling towers amid the Legionnaires' disease outbreak that has killed 10 and sickened dozens.
Health officials say they are optimistic that the worst of the outbreak has passed. In the past 24 hours, there have been no Legionnaires' related deaths, officials say. They say the number of new diagnoses is going down, as well as the number of ER visits for pneumonia in the South Bronx. The death toll remains at 10, with 101 cases reported overall.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for stricter regulations on cooling towers to prevent the further outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in New York City.
To ensure that that the outbreak doesn't worsen, de Blasio says health officials will be monitoring cooling towers around the city, which have been eyed as the source of the outbreak.
So far, authorities tested 17 cooling towers across the borough, with five testing positive for the legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires'. De Blasio says if your cooling towers have been tested for the bacteria in the last 30 days, you don't have to follow the new list of regulations he has created.
The city is ordering all owners of buildings with cooling towers to disinfect those towers within 14 days of receiving the order. Also, a record of the disinfection and maintenance must be kept for city officials to see.
Officials say Gov. Andrew Cuomo will deploy teams to expedite the process of checking cooling towers. The deployment is in cooperation with the CDC and New York City.
"This is a disease that is ubiquitous in our communities and occasionally occurs in outbreak form, but we recognize the importance and collaboration in dealing with such a large outbreak that we've had in the Bronx," says NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.
Officials say that it is important for people to know that Legionnaires' disease cannot be spread by person-to-person contact, you have to breathe in the mist from the infected cooling towers to contract the disease.
Anyone who experiences symptoms of Legionnaires' should immediately head to the doctor. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches.