By Jordan Schmidt
Between December 2014 and September 2015 there were three clusters of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in the Bronx, New York City. Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia, is caused by inhaling aerosolized water containing certain pathogenic strains of Legionella bacteria. Legionella thrive in warm, stagnant water with low disinfection residuals such as hot water tanks, hot tubs, cooling towers, decorative fountains and showerheads. In total, the Bronx outbreaks infected more than 150 individuals resulting in at least 17 deaths. The second outbreak (138 infected, 16 deaths) was the largest Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City history. The source of Legionella was ultimately linked to cooling towers.