Preliminary tests show cooling towers at a Bronx housing complex tested positive for bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.
Over the last month, the city found 12 Bronxites infected with the disease, which can cause fever, chills and cough. Those affected can also experience loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea.
Legionella, the bacteria that carries the disease, can often be sourced to plumbing problems in whirlpool spas, humidifiers, hot water tanks, as well as cooling towers not unlike the ones at Co-Op City in the Bronx.
Representatives from New York City Health Department met with residents from the housing complex for the first time on Tuesday night.
The agency said they instructed the company responsible for the cooling towers, River Bay Corporation, to disinfect the towers with chlorine as of late last week.
Officials said decontamination can take up to 10 days. How the bacteria made its way into the cooling towers remains unclear.
The contaminated samples were found in water supplies used to cool the buildings’ heating and electrical system — not in water used by residents for daily use. The bacteria typically is inhaled after the tainted water is vaporized.
“We are conducting a thorough investigation and working closely with River Bay Corporation to minimize the public risk and to prevent future cases,” Health Commissioner Mary Bassett wrote in a statement Tuesday.