State deploys teams for legionella testing

State health workers deployed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the Bronx on Saturday in an effort to root out the Legionnaires' outbreak discovered five new sites contaminated with legionella bacteria.

The new sites all been decontaminated. They were found at the Verizon building at 1106 Hoe Ave., the housing court at 1118 Grand Concourse, the Bronx Hall of Justice at 245 East 161st St., a post office building at 554 Grand Concourse, and Samuel Gompers High School at 445 Southern Blvd.

Although disinfection was already performed Saturday, the high school will remain closed for the week out of an abundance of caution, officials say.

Health officials say they're confident that the outbreak is confined to one of the original five sites to test positive for legionella, not any of the new ones.

State health officials say their teams tested dozens of water cooling towers throughout the borough in places like Montefiore Medical Center, residential complexes and nursing homes.

The teams collected samples from towers in five different Bronx neighborhoods: Hunts Point, Mott Haven, Highbridge, Fordham and Mount Eden.

The state earlier said it would work with property owners to decontaminate the affected towers.

Health officials said Friday that they are optimistic that the worst of the outbreak has passed. They say the number of new diagnoses is going down, as is the number of emergency room visits for pneumonia in the South Bronx. 

The death toll remains at 10, with more than 100 cases reported overall, according to health officials.

There has also been a case reported in New York's Rockland County involving a worker at a gas company, but it's unclear if that's linked to the outbreak in the Bronx.

De Blasio is issuing stricter regulations on cooling towers to prevent the further outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in New York City.

The city is ordering all owners of buildings with cooling towers to disinfect those towers within two weeks. Also, a record of the disinfection and maintenance must be kept for city officials to review.

To ensure that that the outbreak doesn't worsen, de Blasio says health officials will be monitoring cooling towers around the city.

Officials will vote Thursday on new legislation regarding cooling tower upkeep.

Anyone who experiences symptoms of Legionnaires' should immediately see a doctor. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and headaches.

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