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NY Police Officer Falls Ill With Legionnaire’s Disease

12 June 2017, 8:22 am EDT By Katrina Pascual Tech Times
A police officer from a East Harlem precinct is now recovering from a likely case of Legionnaire’s disease.   ( Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | Getty Images )

An East Harlem precinct recently got attention for a potential case of Legionnaire's disease involving a police officer.

Notified last Saturday night, June 10, the health department said it is working with the New York Police Department (NYPD) to prove a likely case at the 23rd Precinct in Harlem.

Potential Sickness In NY Precinct

The officer is said to be in recovery stage now in a hospital outside the city, WABC-TV said.

The health department is also urging officers and staff to avoid taking hot showers in the facility but added that the public should not worry over a larger public health risk.

The city is estimated to document 200 to 400 cases of the disease every year, with an outbreak back in 2015. In Bronx, various cases resulted in the largest outbreak in the city's history, attributed to cooling towers and leading to 21 cases in the area alone.

Last year, at least 10 people in Michigan, particularly in the Flint area, died of the disease. Public water systems in that location are known for carrying large concentrations of toxins such as lead.

Legionnaire's Disease At The Rio

Two persons who made separate trips to Rio Las Vegas Hotel and Casino back in March and April have contracted Legionnaire's disease, which leads to pneumonia-like symptoms.

According to the Southern Nevada Health District last Friday, June 9, the guests stayed at the hotel, fell ill, and the property tested its water system after the sicknesses were confirmed. The results emerged positive for the bacteria.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that under the health district’s supervision, the Rio started to use chlorine at high temperatures for room and water system disinfection last Thursday night. The process, said environmental health supervisor Mark Bergtholdt, included each room in a specific tower of the hotel.

“The company is working closely with the Southern Nevada Health District and taking aggressive remediation actions to ensure the safety of Rio’s water,” an emailed statement from Rio-owning Caesars Entertainment Corp. noted.

As a form of caution, Rio hotel guests were relocated from rooms being disinfected, and the management is providing relevant information to previous and current guests.

Legionnaire’s In Focus

While treatable with antibiotics, Legionnaire’s disease can become fatal if left untreated. The bacteria Legionella pneumophila thrive and spread in water systems as well as cooling towers, hot tubs, indoor plumbing, mist sprayers, and air conditioning units.

Many outbreaks, for instance, have taken place in large buildings due to their complex water systems that pave the way for bacterial overgrowth and proliferation.

The disease was first discovered back in 1976, when over 200 attendees of a Pennsylvania American Legion convention at a Philadelphia hotel developed pneumonia. Some even died.

How do people get sick with it? All it takes is breathing small water droplets that contain the bacteria. Symptoms can include headaches, chills, muscle pain, fever, cough, nausea, chest pain, and diarrhea, to name a few.

Most at risk for the condition are people age 50 and above, smokers, immune-compromised individuals, chronic lung disease patients, and those with an existing medical problem, warned the CDC.

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