NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will send state health inspectors to New York City on Saturday to help inspect cooling towers in response to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, officials said on Friday.
The move, made in partnership with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, came after city officials ordered owners of buildings with cooling towers to disinfect them within 14 days. The state is also providing building managers and landlords with free Legionella testing through October.
City health officials have found five cooling towers that tested positive for Legionella, the bacteria that causes the disease, a severe kind of pneumonia. They said they were confident one of those towers was the source of the outbreak in the city’s South Bronx area.
“While it’s clearly a severe outbreak in the Bronx, this is a statewide issue,” State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said at a news conference.
He said the department had been testing for the disease in New York and in other parts of the state.
Ten people in the South Bronx have died and 101 people have been sickened by the disease since July 10.
Marvin Montgomery, one of the people who contracted the illness, filed a notice of claims against the city for negligence on Friday.
Adam Slater, Montgomery’s attorney, said his client could barely walk and was on dialysis.
“Number one, I want to get my client compensated financially for his damages, his permanent damages. Two, I hope this will prompt building owners to take reasonable precautions to protect against a similar outbreak,” Slater told Reuters.
Health officials said that the frequency of Legionnaires’ diagnoses was decreasing and the peak of the outbreak had passed.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to pass legislation that will establish a long-term plan to inspect and clean cooling towers to prevent future outbreaks, which would make the city one of the first jurisdictions to do so. It has about 2,500 cooling towers, which are common on modern buildings.
Editing by Eric Walsh