Legionella exposure sickens 2, causes closure of Waco YMCA

<i>Legionella</i> exposure sickens 2, causes closure of Waco YMCA

Health authorities in Waco, Texas, are investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease believed to be connected to the Waco Family YMCA.

Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection caused by Legionella bacteria, which are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets in the form of mist or vapor.

“Exposure to the Legionella bacteria may have occurred at the Waco Family YMCA,” Rodney Martin, president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Texas, was quoted in a notice to visitors.

While the facility remains open to members and guests – after consultation with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District (WMCPHD) – officials closed the whirlpool area, which is adjacent to an indoor pool.

“The Waco Family YMCA will remain open to members, guests and program participants as all other areas of the Y are accessible, including the pool, gym, fitness, group exercise spaces and more,” the organization said. “The restricted area will not affect the operations of the Y or its ability to serve its guests.”

The source of the bacteria has not been identified.

“We have been in contact with both the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District as well as the Center for Disease Control and are following their recommendations,” Martin wrote in an e-mail. “We have also contacted an outside expert to complete testing of the Y’s water.”

Health officials work backward
Kelly Craine, public information officer for the WMCPHD, said once the department was notified of the cases, its staff began “working backward” to discover a common denominator between the patients and pinpoint a possible source of their infection.

“The hot tub has been closed, and it is the only area that’s been closed,” she said. “Because of the mist, you always want to look at the hot tub as a possible suspect.”

YMCA visitors may need to take action
Health district officials said they believe the two patients contracted the Legionella between Feb. 4 and Feb. 21.

If you are a member, visitor or employee of the YMCA, located at 6800 Harvey Road, and you used the whirlpool, swam in the pool or traveled through the whirlpool or pool area this month and are feeling pneumonia- or flu-like symptoms, you should seek care from your health-care provider, according to Craine.


NYC DOB Update: August

Customers will be able to schedule, cancel, and review appointments through a convenient website. To access the new system, users will enter the same DOB ID Number and PIN they previously provided when calling 311.

For all appointments with a Plan Examiner through Friday, October 5

 Continue to call 311 to make or cancel an appointment if the desired or scheduled meeting date is before or on October 5.

 As appointments and cancellations must be made at least one day prior, the last day that 311 will process these calls will be October 4.

For all appointments with a Plan Examiner starting Tuesday, October 9

 Starting Monday, October 1 customers may use the new system through a link on the nyc.gov/buildings website to make appointments with a desired meeting date of October 9 or later.

 No appointments will be transferred from the old system to the new system. It will not be possible to make an appointment that occurs on October 9 or later until the new system is launched on October 1.

The new appointments system only applies to standard plan review for BIS job filings.

 Specialized plan examination appointments (audits, determinations, emergencies, and project advocate appointments) will continue to be made by submitting a PER11 Manual Appointment and Drop Off Request Form or by contacting the appropriate borough office.

 DOB NOW plan examination appointments (for filings submitted in DOB NOW: Build) will continue to be scheduled in DOB NOW.

Sources: More information on the appointments system including training materials will be posted on nyc.gov/buildings prior to its launch.

Protection Against Legionella: Cooling Tower Requirements 2018

Resources for cooling tower owners, operators, water treatment consultants and inspectors are provided below. Please refer to Title: Subpart 4.1 – Cooling Towers for a full listing of regulatory requirements.

Cooling Tower Registry

Notification of Exceedance

Cooling tower owners must notify the local health department within 24 hours of receipt of a Legionella culture sample result that exceeds 1,000 colony forming units per milliliter (CFU/mL). Owners must also notify the public of test results in the manner determined by the local health department or the New York State Department of Health (Subpart 4-1.6 and Appendix 4-A).

Maintenance Program and Plan

Prior to the initial start-up of a newly installed cooling tower, the owner must obtain a Maintenance Program and Plan for each cooling tower. Each active cooling tower must have an updated Maintenance Program and Plan. (Subpart 4-1.4). This plan must be developed in accordance with ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 Legionellosis: Risk Management for Building Water Systems p. 7-8 (Available for viewing at Read-Only Versions of ASHRAE Standards under Current Popular Standards). You may use this template for the maintenance program and plan.

Legionella Culture Analysis

All Legionella culture analyses must be performed by a laboratory certified by the New York State Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP) (Subpart 4-1.5). Please contact ELAP@health.ny.gov or call (518) 485-5570 to find a certified laboratory.


Any person who disinfects a cooling tower must be a certified commercial pesticide applicator or pesticide technician who is qualified to apply biocide in a cooling tower. Only biocide products registered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for use in cooling towers or pesticidal devices produced in a USEPA registered establishment may be used in disinfection (Subpart 4-1.7 and Appendix 4-A).

Variances and Waivers

An owner may submit a written application to a local health department for a variance for a period not exceeding 90 days from any provision. It must include an explanation of why the variance will not present a danger to public health (Subpart 4-1.11(a)).

The New York State Department of Health may issue a waiver for any provision of the regulation if staff are satisfied that the waiver would not present a danger to public health. Waivers may also be revoked upon determination that the waiver may present a danger to public health (Subpart 4-1.11(b)). To apply for a waiver, please email cooling.tower@health.ny.gov.

Inspections and Certification

All cooling towers must be inspected prior to seasonal start-up and every 90 days while in use. Cooling towers also need to be inspected following maintenance (Subpart 4-1.8(a)).

All cooling towers must obtain a certification by November 1 of each year.  The certification should attest that the cooling tower has a maintenance program and plan, and that all activities within that plan or required by the regulation were implemented (Subpart 4-1.8b). You may use this template for the annual certification documentation.

More Information

Questions or comments: cooling.tower@health.ny.gov

Sources: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/legionella/cooling_towers.htm

DOB Service Updates: August

“To accommodate these moves, each unit will be closed for one day, following this schedule:
Administrative Enforcement Unit (AEU)
 closed Monday, September 10
 open Tuesday, September 11 at new location
Central Inspections (Boiler and Elevator Units)
 closed Tuesday, September 11
 open Monday, September 10 at 280 Broadway, 4th Floor
 open Wednesday, September 12 at new location
Limited Alteration Applications/Permit Renewal & HUB Authentication Unit (LAA)
 closed Wednesday, September 12
 open Monday and Tuesday, September 10-11 at 280 Broadway, 5th Floor
 open Thursday, September 13 at new location
Licensing & Exams Unit
 closed Thursday, September 13
 open Monday-Wednesday, September 10-12 at 280 Broadway, 6th Floor
 open Friday, September 14 at new location
Both walk-in and phone customer service will not be available on the day each unit is closed. All unit phone numbers will remain the same.
To access the Customer Service Atrium, enter the building at the public entrance on 280 Broadway. An accessible entrance for people with disabilities is temporarily located at 55 Chambers Street.
If any changes need to be made to this schedule, another Service Notice will be immediately posted.”

Two MTA employees diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease

“NEW YORK — Two MTA employees have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, according to a MTA spokesperson.

One of the employees, a highway patrol officer, went to a doctor who told him to go to the emergency room after determining his symptoms similar to those caused by Legionnaires’ disease. He was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with the illness on Aug. 8, according to Wayne Joseph, president of the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association.

The worker was based out of the Staten Island administration office near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the New York Post reports.

Colleagues at that facility were advised not to use the showers but weren’t told why, Joseph said.

PIX11 News reached out to the MTA and the city’s department of health for comment on the two cases.

“MTA Bridges and Tunnels has confirmed two of its employees – who work at separate locations – have been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease and both have received medical treatment. Out of an abundance of caution we are working with the State Health Department to conduct a full investigation,” an MTA spokesperson said.

No other information regarding the second case was released.

Patients can contract Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia, when they breathe in small, airborne droplets of water that contain the bacteria, which can grow in a building’s water system.

Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.

Last month, dozens of cases of Legionnaires’ disease were linked to a cluster in Washington Heights. One of those patients died.

Legionnaires’ disease is a treatable using antibiotics for pneumonia. Every year, there are between 200 and 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the city, according to health officials.

Symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear two to 10 days after significant exposure to Legionella bacteria.

Legionnaires’ disease can be deadly, but is treatable with antibiotics. Most people get better with early treatment, although they may need to be hospitalized. Others have died from complications of the disease.

Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread from person to person. Groups at highest risk for Legionnaires’ disease include people who are middle-aged or older, especially cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung disease or weakened immune systems and people who take medicines that weaken their immune systems (immunosuppressive drugs). Those with symptoms should call their doctor and ask about testing for Legionnaires’ disease.”


Fatal Washington Heights Legionnaires’ Outbreak Up To 23 Cases

City health officials confirmed additional cases in the Washington Heights Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak.

By Brendan Krisel, Patch National Staff  | Updated 

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Cultura/REX/Shutterstock (3540711a)
Legionella pneumophila bacteria

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NY — More cases of Legionnaires’ Disease have been reported in a fatal outbreak in upper Manhattan, according to reports.

The Legionnaires’ cluster has sickened 23 people, killing one, in an area vaguely defined as “lower Washington Heights,” city health officials said. Most of the people who have fallen ill, including the one fatal case, are older than 50 years old, officials said.

The Legionnaires’ outbreak has spurred calls from local politicians for greater transparency and more severe punishments when buildings fail cooling tower inspections. The current fine for a first-time violation is $2,000 and the fines for subsequent violations can not exceed $5,000 the councilman said. For failed inspections of towers that lead to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease the fine is no more than $10,000.

The city Health Department first notified the public about the outbreak on July 11 and said that eight people had contracted the disease. Officials have tested 20 cooling towers of buildings in the area of the outbreak and are saying that neighborhood residents can continue to use water as usual despite the rise in the number of people sickened by the outbreak.

The Health Department is warning people to be vigilant should they experience flu-like symptoms. The department listed the area of the outbreak as “lower Washington Heights,” but did not provide details as to what that area entails. A Health Department spokeswoman told Patch that the department does not disclose the specific locations of outbreaks.


Legionnaires’ symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea and generally surface two to 10 days after contact with the bacteria Legionella. Common culprits in the spread of the Legionella bacteria include cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems, the Department of Health said. The city sees an average of 200 to 500 cases of Legionnaires’ Disease each year, health officials said.

The disease cannot be spread from one person to another, the Department of Health said in a statement.

NYC Building Service Update

As defined in the 2014 NYC Building Code, Appendix K, Table N1, this applies to:

 Elevator Inspection/Test Reports (ELV3) for Category 1, Category 3, and Category 5;

 Elevator/Escalator Test Notifications (ELV36) for Category 1 escalators, Category 5 elevators and related devices;

 Affirmation of Correction (ELV29) for Category 1 unsatisfactory reports and PVT violations. No paper filings will be accepted after August 31, 2018

 By mail: All paper filings submitted to DOB must be postmarked no later than August 28. Mailings received with a postmark beyond the August 28 deadline will be rejected and sent back to the applicant.

 In-person: The last day to submit paper elevator inspection/test reports, notifications or affirmations of correction filings on the 4th or 6th floor at 280 Broadway is August 31.

No filings can be submitted between September 1, 2018 and September 16, 2018  No elevator inspection/test reports, notifications or affirmations of correction will be accepted by mail, in-person or online. If your filing is due in this period, you must submit the filing before August 31. Late filings will be subject to civil penalties/late fees. Failure to file will result in full penalties per 1RCNY§103-02. Log Into DOB NOW: Safety All Owners, Agency Directors and Inspectors need an eFiling account to submit filings in DOB NOW: Safety.

If you need to register for an account, visit the Registration Information page at www.nyc.gov/dobnowtips for assistance. DOB NOW: Safety Training DOB will conduct free training sessions to demonstrate how to use DOB NOW: Safety for elevator compliance filings. To register for an upcoming training and to view resources including a user manual go to www.nyc.gov/dobnowtraining.

To submit an inquiry about DOB NOW: Safety, visit www.nyc.gov/dobnowhelp.

NYC Service Updates

Beginning August 1, 2018, applicants will be required to submit the following documents prior to the issuance of a permit and prior to sign-off for a new building (NB) or major Alteration Type 1 (Alt1) for a location flagged as Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH):

 Prior to Permit: a Permit Notice issued by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD);

 Prior to Sign-off: a Completion Notice issued by HPD.

To learn if your project is within an MIH area, refer to Appendix F of the Zoning Resolution. For questions, contact the Department of Buildings’ Borough Office. For more information on MIH, visit HPD’s website.


Effective August 1, 2018 Gas Test and Gas Finish self-certifications will no longer be allowed for work done in Brooklyn and Staten Island. A physical inspection witnessed by the Department of Buildings will be required.
All inspections must be requested using DOB NOW: Inspections. When requesting an inspection select one of the inspection types below:
 PL – Up to 3 Requested Floors
 PL – Up to 9 Requested Floors
 PL – More than 10 Requested Floors (3, 9, and 10 refer to the total number of floors you are requesting to be inspected) Important Note: When requesting an inspection you must enter in the Additional Information box the specific type of inspection being requested as:
Gas – Test
Gas – Finish
For Advance Notices for Gas Test and Gas Finish inspections in Brooklyn and Staten Island, submitted before August 1, 2018, you will still be able to submit certifiable results in DOB NOW: Inspections 24 hours from the time you indicated on your Advance Notice.
To request an inspection please log onto DOB NOW: Inspections at www.nyc.gov/inspections. For instructions on how to request an inspection using DOB NOW: Inspections please see the User Manual entitled Inspections: Requesting, Cancelling, and Viewing Results at:
http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/pdf/inspection_results.pdf work inside individual units where the notice of violation was issued for a shared common space.


Precautions taken at Columbus VA clinic after veterans diagnosed with legionnaires  

Staff closed all water fountains at the outpatient clinic while officials continue to test for Legionella.  This comes after doctors diagnosed two veterans with the legionnaires, but a total of five have the symptoms.

According to the CDC legionnaires disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. People get sick when they breathe in a mist or accidentally swallow water into the lungs containing Legionella.

A spokesperson with the center says doctors diagnosed one of the patients at Mount Carmel East, where they’re being treated now.  Doctors diagnosed the other inside of the VA’s urgent care center and that person is home right now.

VA officials tell us the Franklin County Health Department and Columbus Public Health have seen an increase in cases of Legionella over the past two weeks.  The city health department has seen 20 cases in the month of June and a total of 40 for this year.

The county health department says it’s seen 15 cases for June, which they say is not unusual considering rainier months generate a larger number of cases.