Health Department Traces Legionnaires' Outbreak to Bronx Psychiatric Center

After getting a deadly Legionnaires' outbreak that left 12 people dead and an estimated 120 people sick in the Bronx under control in August, the Health Department reported a new cluster of cases in the same borough this fall. The most recent cases have afflicted people ranging in age from 45 to 75. The first case was reported on Sept. 21, with six other cases coming to the attention of Health Department officials over the following week.

The city health department has stated that the most recent Legionnaires' disease outbreak probably originated from a cooling tower at the Bronx Psychiatric Center in Morris Park. The cooling tower has since been cleaned and disinfected. The prior outbreak was traced to a cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel in the area, and prompted the City Council to pass Local Law 77 of 2015 mandating registration and disinfection of cooling towers.

Specifically, Local Law 77 mandates that all existing cooling towers, fluid coolers, and evaporative condensers be registered with the Buildings Department within 30 days of the law’s taking effect, and that new towers and other such equipment need to be registered before they go online. In addition, the law specifies that from now on, the “owner or operator of a cooling tower” must file a certification every year stating that the tower has been inspected, tested, cleaned, and disinfected, as well as develop a maintenance program and plan. Concurrently, the state issued its own regulation, which is very similar and has the same elements.