BY JAMES FARRELL
The number of confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Flushing has grown from 12 to 14, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Thursday.
The two additional cases were previously under investigation, and at a Tuesday press conference at Councilman Peter Koo’s (D-Flushing) office, DOH officials had cautioned that the initial number of 12 could increase pending those two investigations. All of the cases, including these two latest cases, were diagnosed between Oct. 10 and Oct. 19. There have been no new diagnoses since then.
DOH will hold an informational town hall on Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Blvd. to discuss the issue with Flushing residents.
Twelve patients have been released from the hospital, two are still hospitalized.
DOH is investigating 55 cooling towers in the affected area, the agency announced on Thursday. It has not yet released the specific locations of concern. Water samples have been taken from all of them, and preliminary results found 10 cooling towers with DNA from the legionella bacteria that causes the disease. DOH has issued commissioner’s orders to immediately increase the use of biocides that kill the bacteria.
Meanwhile, the agency said it is growing the bacteria in a culture to determine the presence of the live bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, which will take about two weeks. If the culture is positive, building owners with positive cooling towers will have to fully clean and disinfect their towers.
DOH is urging residents in the area with respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, chills and muscle aches, to seek medical attention.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.