Summertime Disease


Annie Abreu, Reporter

When you think of summer, you think of long hot relaxing days; you don’t think of deaths that you caused, because you wanted to cool down during the day. Cooling towers in the South Bronx and Manhattan were the cause for over 100 cases of the Legionnaires disease and around a dozen deaths.

The Legionnaires disease is a type of bacterium called Legionella. It is a type of pneumonia that grows in warm water. It is commonly found in cooling towers on top of buildings that usually have central air conditioning. The disease was contracted by the people in the South Bronx and Manhattan, simply by breathing in the air. The City worked quickly to find the cause for the sudden outbreak, and found that the disease was in the cooling tanks of the buildings, where most of the victims of the disease either lived or worked in.

“We are 43 percent of the state’s population, and we’re the ones who have an outbreak—so it makes sense that, if we’re already in motion, to align what we’re doing to what the state is doing,” Mr. de Blasio told the Observer. If it hadn’t been for the City’s quick response there would’ve been more cases of the Legionnaires disease and maybe even more deaths. “I would describe it as swift, very diligent and robust, while at the same time being open-minded and flexible in the response,” said Dr. Matthew Moore, a medical epidemiologist. Cooling tanks in the area of the outbreak were tested for the Legionnaires disease and cleaned.

A problem like this isn’t something that everyone needs to worry about once it starts getting warm again. A law now requires the registration of cooling towers, fluid coolers, and evaporative condensers with the City. Every building with any of these types of equipment must have already been registered, no later than September 17th 2015.

The City continues to act on this issue to make sure it never happens again. There have been interviews with every single Legionnaires disease patient to make sure the source of the disease is correct. There has also been an outreach to places vulnerable to the disease, such as senior citizen homes. The Bronx residents and local elected officials are even being kept updated with any further news of the disease. It was a sad summer for the families of the 12 people who passed, because of the disease, this is why the City is working to make sure this doesn’t happen again.