2018 looks to be another record-breaking year for cases of Legionnaires’ disease in New York State, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The national public health agency reported a total of 875 cases, statewide, as of September 27.This count continues to rise as more and more New Yorkers contract the disease, including a cluster of 17 cases, one fatal, reported in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City in early October. The CDC expects the total number of cases in New York State to reach 1,180 by the end of the year, surpassing 2017's total of 1,009.
Also noted in the CDC's update is the disturbing rate at which the often deadly form of pneumonia is being contracted—with more than 128 cases reported across New York State within a recent three-week period. To put this in context, during that same time frame there were a total of 348 cases reported throughout the entire country, it states. New York accounted for 37 percent of nationwide cases, the CDC report adds.
New York City and New York State have some of the most stringent and comprehensive Legionella regulations in the country in regards to the management of its water cooling towers. Despite the city and state’s efforts to prevent outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease from the inhalation of contaminated water vapor, New York has little means for identifying contaminants in potable water before they become dangerous.
Department of Health (DoH) officials typically investigate cases of Legionnaires’ only when two or more individuals become infected and are linked to a common source. This policy generates results when determining the cause of high-profile outbreaks, but has left 848 sporadic cases uninvestigated since the start of 2018, alone.
Such projections by the CDC suggest that to be more effective in preventing Legionnaires' in New York, proactive steps must be taken to monitor the spread of Legionella bacteria in all of its sources.