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In 2016 New York had more than twice the number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease than England & Wales combined

posted 20 Mar 2017, 02:05 by Ian Clarenbone

New York sees 718 cases of Legionnaires’ disease

Public health activists are urging New York to implement tougher water safety regulations to help prevent future outbreaks. The “Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires’ Disease” has released a report showing New York had 718 cases of the disease in 2016, while Ohio had 493, California recorded 413 cases, Pennsylvania had 355 and Florida had 332. Incredibly New York’s 718 cases of the disease accounted for 14% of the USA’s total count that year.

To put these figures in to context Public Health England reported 345 confirmed cases of the disease in the whole of England and Wales for 2016.

New York study identifies cooling towers

The outbreak in New York in 2015 led officials to bring in emergency regulations that focused on the management of cooling towers and improving the conditions to ensure these towers were not the source of any further outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease. However, the Alliance believes the drinking water infrastructure should also be looked at in detail. They stated ‘water-cooled air conditioning systems were quickly declared to be the source of the bacteria’, further stating that investigation procedures were not followed.

10% mortality rate

Legionnaires’ disease has around a 10% mortality rate, and many others who survive only do so after extensive hospital treatment.

Contaminated droplets of water that are inhaled by unsuspecting victims can lead to a severe form of pneumonia that is indicative of this condition. Some suspect biofilms that can safely harbour the dangerous bacteria exist inside old water pipes in the system, but unless and until an investigation is 
completed, it remains uncertain where the cases and outbreaks are coming from.