Residents wary as officials track legionella

Residents in Morris Park say they're worried now that a new cluster of Legionnaires' disease has been traced to their neighborhood.

The Bronx Borough President's Office has confirmed that there were 10 cases linked to the Morris Park cluster as of Tuesday evening.

"I'm afraid to shake hands with anybody," says John Murano, who lives on Morris Park Avenue. "It was never like this."

The legionella bacteria that causes the disease actually spreads through misty water -- often from contaminated water cooling towers -- according to health officials.

Health officials tested 35 of the towers in the area Monday and are awaiting results to pinpoint the source.

Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Jay Varma says the Health Department is on top of the investigation.

"This is a bacteria that lives normally in the environment," Varma says. "So we will never be able to eliminate the risk, but...the registration and maintenance of the cooling towers will reduce the frequency."

News 12 previously reported that the city acted fast to pass new laws to mandate the cleaning and registration of towers that could spread the bacteria after a larger outbreak over the summer.

Rich Garner, who runs Metro Group Incorporated, was the man responsible for cleaning many of the towers during the summer's outbreak. He says his company cleaned more towers in August than in all of 2014.

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