Expert: Cooling towers clear of Legionella

The borough's cooling towers are now clear of legionella following a thorough decontamination, the city's deputy commissioner of disease control tells News 12.

Dr. Jay Varma says the city has been working aggressively to try and find the source of this cluster of legionella, which causes Legionnaires' disease. He says that five cooling towers tested positive for legionella and all of them have now been decontaminated. 

The cooling towers are at the Verizon office building on East 167th Street, the Streamline Plastic Company on Park Avenue, the Opera House Hotel on East 149th Street, Concourse Plaza on East 161st Street and Lincoln Hospital on East 149th Street.

Varma adds that the number of Legionnaires' cases could still rise slightly over the next few days because people may have been infected before the towers were cleaned. Three more deaths were confirmed Monday, bringing the death toll to seven.

Health officials passed out fliers across major hubs in the South Bronx over the weekend to inform people of who is at risk and what they should look out for.

He says that there is no need to worry about drinking the city's water or using air conditioners.

All sites where the contamination was discovered must submit long-term plans on how they will maintain the cooling towers in order to prevent future growth of legionella.

Those plans are due to health officials by Friday.

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