Health commissioner: Legionnaires' outbreak is over

The New York City health commissioner confirmed Thursday that the Legionnaires' outbreak has officially ended.

"We have not seen anyone become sick from Legionnaires' in the area of the outbreak since Aug. 3. And we are now well past the incubation period of the disease," says Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.

The Health Department says it has identified the cooling tower at the Opera House Hotel as the source of the outbreak.

Bassett says the hotel has been cooperative since the outbreak and in making sure that the site is free from legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires'.

She says the city is going to shift the conversation toward prevention by making sure all cooling towers in the city are properly cleaned on a regular basis.

The city also plans to educate residents throughout all five boroughs. People need to know that legionella can spread by breathing in contaminated mist and cannot be transmitted from person-to-person, according to officials.

Bassett says that despite the end of the outbreak, there might be additional cases around the city. She says the bacteria is ubiquitous in the environment. She hopes residents will never see cases of this magnitude again.

At its peak, the outbreak swelled to 128 cases and 12 deaths, according to health officials. Ninety-four percent of the people hospitalized have been discharged.

Opera House released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that it is disappointed with the results, particularly because its system is 2 years old - the most current technology available.

The hotel says a test completed Wednesday confirmed that its tank is free of legionella.

Officials say they intend to go beyond the requirements and will test their cooling towers every 90 days.

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